Submitted by Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy

With the arrival of sunshine and warmer weather and perhaps a little more time at home – you might be eager to get outside and tackle the yards and gardens that have been neglected. However, with all the work to be done, heavy lifting and awkward positions can take a toll on your body. Here are some tips to get your spring and summer started off pain free.

1. Alternate between light and heavy activities. Change up positions and tasks can help reduce straining one particular area. Switching between various weights and different activities, every 10-20 min, can reduce strain on your low back.

2. Avoid prolonged, repetitive tasks. Performing the same task for extended periods of time can lead to overuse injuries including tendonitis and tendonosis.

3. Avoid heavy lifting following prolonged bending/kneeling. Bending and kneeling for extended periods can fatigue the low back muscles, thus when you go to lift something heavy, your muscles are fatigued and compensations can result in injury. Try to use a wheel barrow or other means to lessen the load for transporting heavy dirt or mulch. Cut down on the size or weight of the load and do multiple smaller load trips when moving dirt and mulch.

4. Use a mat or knee pads for kneeling. To reduce pain on knees, use a mat or knee pads to cushion these areas. If you have pain with kneeling, sit on a bucket to avoid bending down.

5. Move your feet. When shoveling, such as moving dirt, move your feet instead of twisting your spine. This will keep your spine in alignment and reduce risk of injury. Most of the time people do not feel pain at the time of the injury. This twisting motion will likely bother you the most 2-3 days later.

6. Lift small amounts of weight. When lifting weight, keep item(s) close to your body to reduce strain on low back. If you can’t move closer to what you’re lifting, lift small amounts at a time.

7. Push, don’t pull. Pushing is always better than pulling, as you can keep the item closer to your body and you have more force with proper mechanics. Pulling almost always engages the back and most low back injuries happen with pulling, twisting, or lifting too heavy of a load.

8. Take Rest breaks and hydrate often with water or lemon water. Try to avoid alcohol while you are working in the garden/yard.

Enjoy being outside! But the most important thing I can tell you is to pace yourself. If you are over 40 then take your time and try not to do everything in one weekend. Easy to say, hard to follow. Use ice if you are sore after a day’s work outside. Ice the sore area for 15 minutes, two to three times a day. Inflammation peaks 48-72 hours after an event which is why many times you don’t feel much soreness until a few days after the event. And for some people they may not notice pain for a week or two. Especially if you pinch a nerve in the process. Nerves take awhile to actually cause symptoms. If you start having tingling and pain that seems more nerve like then go back in time a few weeks to trace what might have caused it.

Take time to enjoy the outdoors while you work.  Enjoy the wonderful weather we are having these days in the Pacific Northwest!

We are happy to help you if you are struggling with being able to garden due to knee pain, back pain, etc. We have various free tips reports at the Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy website.

The author, Jennifer Penrose, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and owner of Penrose Physical Therapy. She is also the author of “Run Forever.  The secrets to common running and walking Injuries.” She also hosts the Stay Healthy South Sound Podcast with tips to stay healthy interviewing patients, providers, and other fitness experts in the area. 

If you have any questions you can call 360.456.1444 or by email at info@penrosept.com.  Located at 1445 Galaxy Dr. Suite 301 Lacey, WA 98516 about 3 miles from Jubilee.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email