11 Tips to Avoid Aches, Pains and Injury While Working in Your Garden or Yard This Spring

Last year an 83 year-old patient (let’s call her Kay) came to my clinic very discouraged. She said she went to the doctor because of back pain and stiffness and was told she had arthritis. She was distraught as she lives alone, is very active and felt that she was doomed to live in pain. Funny thing was, her pain was very minimal and once I asked about her pain, here is what she said.

“It started after I trimmed 17 bushes around my house over a three-day period. I had never experienced back pain before this, but when the doctor told me I have arthritis, I knew I had to stop everything or I would live in pain.”

I smiled and gently assured her that her arthritis had been there for years and that if I trimmed 17 bushes in three days I would feel back pain and aches. I let her know that her life was not over by any means and the fact she was able to trim 17 bushes in three days proved she was far from being done with activities, BUT, I said, “Kay, maybe take a few less bushes a day and spread it out a bit longer and everything would be fine next time.” She left with a new lease on life relieved to know arthritis did not have to slow her down…

SO, with Spring nearly in full swing, it’s time to get your yard and garden prepared for summer. Is YOUR body ready? Many people spend the winter months less active, or hibernating (if you will), so you may be at risk for injury IF you do not prepare adequately. Getting out and working in the garden / yard too quickly can cause muscle pain, back, shoulder, and knee strains and pains.

Here are some tips to help avoid some common aches and pains you might encounter while gardening:

  • Start slow and slowly progress the level of activity.
  • Work smarter, not harder. Use tools to reduce risk and strain on body.
  • Warm up first by walking &/or stretching before beginning yard / gardening work.
  • STOP at any signs of pains in joints or back, though it is NOT unusual to have some muscular fatigue or soreness with new activities.
  • Feel free to use an ice pack for any region of soreness. I recommend up to 20’.
  • IF pain persists > 72 hours without relief, call our office for advice.

To HELP minimize risk of injury during working in yard/ garden, try these simple tips:

  • Alternate positions frequently to avoid stressing muscles and joints or causing fatigue. Keep plant pots at various heights, on tables, at waist level and on ground to help with changing positions.
  • Drink MORE water than you think you need, many people are dehydrated and do not know it.
  • Do not be afraid to take breaks to move, stretch and rest a bit each 45-60 minutes.
  • Use proper tools to avoid stressing your body unnecessarily, e.g. knee pads for kneeling, thick handled spades for planting etc.
  • When done with activities remember to “cool down” with a walk or gentle stretching activities.

MOST importantly, remember pain is a sign from your body that something is wrong. IT is not worth creating more problems by working through or pushing through pain. Don’t ignore your body’s cries for mercy. NOT stopping may cause more problems than it is worth. IF pain does NOT calm down in 48-72 hours, call our office and ask for help on what to do!! We are always here for you!!!!

Dean Volk

Dean Volk

Dean, graduated with a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy from Northern Arizona University and has furthered his studies with a number of post-graduate courses focusing on the shoulder, knee, and back, with a strong emphasis in manual therapy. He has completed all Levels (I,II & III) of training in Total Motion Release which has afforded him an excellent way to relieve pain and restore function quickly and effectively. With 20+ years experience in Physical Therapy, Dean has practiced in various orthopedic and sports focused clinical settings, in Phoenix, AZ, Charlotte,NC and most recently Charleston, SC. During his years of service, Dean has cared for a wide variety of clients: from school-aged children to retirees, from homemakers to business professionals, from weekend warriors to professional athletes.

Dean and his wife Trudy have 2 sons, Ben and Jesse who both graduated from the College of Charleston. Dean is an avid sports fan, enjoys spending time with his family and working with his clients to improve their lives.
Dean Volk

You Might Also Like...