In terms of dangerous activities, tending your garden likely falls low on the list. But many consumers throw out their backs while gardening, and the presence of sharp tools and hot summer sun only ups the risk factor.
Before heading to the beds this summer, peruse these safety tips from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
– Loosen your joints and muscles before gardening with simple stretches.
– Take breaks. Do not stay in one position for too long. Switch positions often to avoid overworking one part of the body.
– To avoid injuring your back when lifting heavy objects, position yourself close to the object you want to lift. Separate your feet shoulder-width apart to give yourself a solid base of support. Then bend at the knees, tighten your stomach muscles and lift with your leg muscles as you stand up. If an object is too heavy or is an awkward shape, do not try to lift it by yourself. Get help.
– Protect your back and knees from strain by sitting on a garden stool when possible to help relieve pressure on your spine and knees.
– Consider having a vertical garden, wall planters or hanging plant baskets to avoid the repetitive back bending and kneeling positions that’s involved in traditional gardening.
– Stay hydrated with fluids, especially if you’re working up a sweat.
– Children should not be allowed to play in or near where sharp tools, chemicals or gardening equipment are being used or stored.
– Remove stones, toys and other objects from the yard before you start gardening.
– Wear protective gloves, sturdy shoes and long pants when working in the garden to protect against insect bites and injuries from stepping on sharp objects, or cuts from handling sharp tools.
– Familiarize yourself with the plants that are in your garden. If you identify poisonous plants or trees, ensure you keep young children away and educate them about the potential risks. If you cannot identify a plant or tree, take a sample to your local garden center for identification.
– Keep gardening equipment in good working order. For example, when using a hedge trimmer for the first time in a season, have it serviced to ensure that it is working correctly.
Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons