Gardening can be a relaxing and meditative way to relieve stress for some or a chore for others. Either way, gardening should not cause you pain when you do it correctly. This ergonomics blog will explore some techniques everyone can use to avoid injury while gardening.
Warm up your body before doing gardening.
If you’re going to do extensive gardening or yard work, ergonomics experts suggest that it is a good idea to warm up your body first. The easiest way to warm your body up is to take a short walk around the block for 15 minutes or do some other form of cardio get your blood moving.
Studies from Heart.org explain that a warm-up “dilates your blood vessels, ensuring that your muscles are well supplied with oxygen. It also raises your muscles’ temperature for optimal flexibility and efficiency. By slowly raising your heart rate, the warm-up also helps minimize stress on your heart.”
Every job is easier with the proper tools.
While it may require a financial investment, investing in your health and safety will always pay off in the long run. For example, to avoid kneeling while gardening, purchase a garden stool instead of bending down and straining your back. If you must kneel, invest in a padded kneeler.
When possible, use tools which allow you to stand while using them. A wagon is your friend if you need to transport heavy material and gloves will help make it easier to grip, carry objects, and handle soil. Most gloves will work well, even a baseball batting glove will work.
Keep safety glasses nearby when using power tools or weed whackers to protect your eyes. For shovels or other tools, use soft handles which fit your grip. You can also add foam rubber or grip tape to provide padding to hard handles.
Remember, keep your tools in good shape, so they do not break and cause injury while you are using them.
Create an ergonomic friendly work environment.
Gardening doesn’t have to give you lower back pain. Create a gardening environment that works with you by doing things like raising the surface of your planting space to reduce bending.
Consider vertical, elevated, and raised beds and containers to avoid frequent bending down. Ensure you do not use containers that are too large for harvest to make your work easier to manage.
Vary tasks every half hour so that you don’t do the same task for too long. Setting a timer on your phone every half hour will help you remember. Take stretch breaks every 15-30 minutes.
Use proper form.
Always consider how you are moving your body while you perform actions. For example, when pruning, make sure you stand directly in front of the plant to avoid overreaching.
To avoid back pain, use good form and bend with your knees rather than bending forward with your back. When using a shovel, avoid twisting while shoveling.
Also, be sure to avoid straining yourself when moving heavy objects. Make use of a wheelbarrow to move heavy objects like soil and do not fill the wheelbarrow. Instead, fill the wheelbarrow to a comfortable level and make multiple, easy trips.
In conclusion, be actively conscious of your workspace and body movement while gardening.
Gardening should be a relaxing and stress reducing experience, not a painful one. The easiest way to avoid injury while gardening is to be mindful of your workspace, use proper tools, and use proper form while working.
To learn about more ways to incorporate proper ergonomics into your life, check out our ergonomics blog. At SolutionsNW.com, we value the importance of injury free work. Contact Us to schedule an ergonomics consultation or ergonomics assessment today.
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