(Broad-casted on CITY TV’s “City” with Marilyn Dennis)
1. Before each gardening session, stretch shoulder, low back and leg muscles.
2. Take mini-stretch breaks every 20-30 minutes to reduce muscle fatigue and stiffness.
3. Keep switching activities to avoid muscle soreness. If you’ve been crouching or kneeling for 20-30 minutes, change to an upright position, walk around, try raking or pruning for 30 minutes, then switch again.
4. The best back protection is bending your knees whenever you are leaning over or lifting something.
5. Overreaching can strain the back and shoulder area. Have tools that are long enough for you. There are tools available with curved handles which are easier on the back than the ones with straight handles.
6. Cushion knees. Use a kneeling pad to reduce stress on the knees.
7. Lifting large heaving bags of soil or fertilizer from the trunk of your car is a task which places your back at risk. Ask for help or empty half the bag into a smaller container.
8. To avoid overuse injuries of the wrist and thumb, look for tools with trigger grips which give thumbs and fingers a resting place. Wear gloves to prevent blisters and protect finger nails.
9. Get close to the object when you reach, and lift and face the object. Lifting something from an awkward angle or not having both feet firmly balanced with equal weight distribution can easily strain the lower back. Remember to breathe as you life the object.
10. You don’t have to ‘get it all done’ in one weekend. Have fun. Be careful of sunburn. Wear a hat. Finish your day with a relaxing hot bath, or cold shower, as you prefer.