In the Finger Lakes area, we have a limited amount of time to get our gardens ready for summer enjoyment. The long winter months find us spending a lot of time inside, then as soon as Spring breaks in April, we start the mad dash to Memorial Day. Hurrying to get all of our garden chores done, trying to plant our annual plants after the elusive last-frost date, and attempting to get a leg-up on the weeds all because summer seems too short to enjoy our outdoor spaces. Time constraints and physical stresses combine in the Spring for the perfect recipe for pain and injury.
Certainly gardening is really good for our health, in fact, it is considered to be one of the healthiest activities because gardeners use every muscle in their bodies as they walk, lift, reach, bend, kneel, squat, lunge, and climb. Since most of us garden on the weekends or after work, the label ‘weekend warrior’ comes to mind and it is catchy, but we may lose the battle if we overdo, suffer from aches, pains, or possibly do serious damage to our body. Such injuries are more likely if you already have things like arthritis, bursitis, or one of the many issues our bodies suffer from as we age. In my case, my brain thinks I’m still in my 30’s, while my body gives me sharp reminders of my true age and ability.
There are many good rules of thumb to use when creating gardens; such as soil preparation, plant selection, and after care. These rules are very helpful to gardeners young and old, but for someone just starting out it can be a game changer to start out on the right foot. Now that I have been gardening professionally long enough to wear out two hip joints, the importance of gardening ergonomics has come to light. Knowing what to do is important enough, but knowing how to do it without hurting yourself is even more vital to your gardening longevity.
These tools and techniques will help veteran gardeners continue to enjoy their activities, while showing new gardeners how to work comfortably from the start. As these ideas bring more efficiency and physical comfort to your garden work, they will create more time for the actual enjoyment of your outdoor space. Preventing injuries and wear and tear to joints will help make gardening an enjoyable life-long activity. After all, it’s not just about the passion for flowers and fresh air, gardening is about enhancing the health of body, mind, AND spirit!
BACKS - Standing up to the challenge
KNEES AND ELBOWS - Down to earth positions
HANDS, FINGERS, WRISTS - Get a grip
1) GLOVES - Nitrile gloves do not wear out and are thin enough to feel what you’re doing while weeding and planting. The rubbery textured Mudglove helps to grip things like bags of mulch and tools, so it helps to reduce the strain toyour hands and back when carrying heavy items or using tools. I use both types.
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