It’s that time of year again; time to get out in the garden. Whether you just take care of containers, grow your own veggies, or have a big spread, the days are getting longer and warmer, and the weeds are growing at an amazing rate. Here are some tips on how to avoid injury.
1-First, pay attention to how you move and bend. Hinge at your hips, rather than bending your back. Check out this great article on hip hinging from NPR, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/02/26/587735283/lost-art-of-bending-over-how-other-cultures-spare-their-spines
Or just google hip hinge- don’t be intimidated by the weight lifting posts, hip hinging is for everyone who bends forward. The basics; the hips are big joints with strong muscles, designed to move and lift. The back has smaller joints with much smaller muscles. Use your hips. This is not just for gardening. This is a principle to help you live a pain free life, and move more efficiently. Yes, you are probably trying to break an old habit, but it is worth the effort.
(Picture courtesy of FlexibilityRX.com, the dowel is used to remind you how to keep your lower back straight.)
2- Be especially careful when bending over and pulling weeds. Pulling weeds is one of the most risky activities in your garden. Make sure the soil is wet. If possible, use a shovel or some other tool, rather than just bending over and pulling upward.
3- When using a rake, rake from one side of your body for a while, then switch sides. This prevents just one set of muscles in your body from doing all the work. Don’t twist excessively; use your core to keep your trunk still and move from your hips.
4- Use proper shovel technique! Squatting, using your hips and your thigh for leverage is way more powerful than using your back! See this link for details
5- Pacing- you have all summer to garden, don’t push it. If you have an iffy back, start out with 20 minute sessions, take breaks, and arch backwards as a break to reposition your lumbar discs.
A happy gardener is a pain free gardener. Enjoy the wonderful part of our summer. Hope we stay smoke free.