Gardening is one of our most wholesome hobbies—one where we get to put our hands in the dirt, breathe the fresh air, and reap the rewards of our labor. From stress-relief to getting the heart pumping, gardening comes with many benefits. It’s a great way to get out of the house, stay active, and put a little good in the earth.
At OrthoSports Associates, we support all our green thumbs and budding enthusiasts, which means shedding some light on the most common injuries encountered in the garden. You may be surprised to know that you can actually hurt yourself at such a pleasant task, but these injuries often happen over time and are so gradual that you might not notice aches and pains until it’s a serious issue. Here are a few tips to keep your body in tip-top shape for seasons to come.
Despite their common names, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow don’t only affect athletes. These injuries happen to gardeners gripping pruning shears, lifting bags of soil, and even performing basic digging and weeding motions. It’s the repetition that causes the tendon and muscle strain, which you may notice in the form of tenderness, pain, or weakness in your elbow, forearm, wrist, or thumb.
Your pruning shears are one place to look when it comes to prevention. Invest in the right tool for the job, not a multipurpose or one-size-fits-all instrument. In fact, many companies sell ergonomic and arthritis-friendly gardening tools. Most importantly, remember to rotate your tasks and take breaks to avoid repetitive strains of all kinds.
Low Back Pain
Gardening requires a large range of motions: bending, lifting, kneeling, squatting, and more. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself twisting into a dangerous position and causing more harm than good. Green thumbs of any age may be tempted to tackle too much, especially if they are just starting out or getting back into the swing of things after a long break.
You know you need to warm up at the gym, and you should warm up in the garden, too! Begin and end your outdoor session with a stretching routine. Once you’re ready to start, keep your back straight and avoid bending—rely on your legs instead by squatting or going down on one knee. And don’t be afraid to ask for help with big tasks!
Prepatellar (Kneecap) Bursitis
Your knee is the largest joint in your body, and as such, it deserves protection. Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, which is what allows our kneecap to move freely as we bend and straighten our knees. Over time, the kneeling position we use to tend to plants puts pressure on our knees that can cause painful, damaging inflammation.
Too often, people forgo their kneepads because they find them inconvenient, but whether you are young or old, knee protection is a key part of a successful garden. There are plenty of options to fit your gardening style—look for kneepads with flexible, durable straps that will be comfortable, or purchase a garden kneeler that you can carry with you.
Here at OrthoSports Associates, our best gardening tip is to take care of yourself! Set out with a plan for how much you can reasonably accomplish in a day, buy the right tools for a variety of tasks, and always be mindful about your movements. With the right amount of prevention, you can set yourself up to enjoy your garden perennially.