Tips and Preventative Techniques for Getting Back to Gardening

  1. Give your muscles a chance to warm up before working in the yard or garden. Practice stretching with the various movements you will be working in the yard, or take a short ten to fifteen-minute walk around the block.
  2. Avoid prolonged bending, pushing and pulling while raking and hoeing, which can strain shoulders or the lower back.
  3. Use long-handled tools, or the resulting forward and sideways bending can aggravate the neck or lower back.
  4. To avoid strain and muscle spasm on one side of the body, switch hands frequently while raking or hoeing.
  5. When using a hedge trimmer, keep your back straight and use short strokes to avoid upper arm and neck strain. Pause after three to five minutes.
  6. Carry medium-to-small sized loads of debris close to your body, or use a wheelbarrow to avoid strain on your back. Save heavier work for mid-way through your chores. This helps avoid sudden strenuous exertion on unused muscles and joints.
  7. Keep overhead work to five-minute episodes. Avoid extreme reaching with one arm.
  8. Kneel to perform tasks, rather than bend and don’t be afraid to use knee pads.
  9. Stretch! Back exercises should deal with flexibility first, strength second.
  10. Finally, if a task seems like too much work, it probably is. Hire a professional for tasks like landscaping, tree-topping or trimming large hedges.