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Avoid Gardening Injuries–Work Smart!

Although it doesn’t take place in a gym, there’s no doubt that gardening can be a workout!

Like any physical activity, you may need to approach garden work a little carefully to avoid injury. Follow these tips to stay safe and keep yourself enjoying gardening all season long.

Image of female farmer working in the garden

Don’t let constant leaning hurt your back– Choose tools that let you work upright, and use them that way!

  • Choose your tools wisely and take good care of them. Take your height into account when you are selecting long handle tools. If you are tall, longer handles may help you stand up straighter. D ring grips can be added to increase leverage. Keep your shovels and hoes clean and well sharpened so you can work more efficiently.
  • Start small. Most gardeners will tell you that their first garden was too much to take care of—don’t let this happen to you! Start small. Proponents of square foot gardening say it is possible to grow enough vegetables for one person in as little as 16 square feet. That’s just 4 feet by 4 feet!
  • Design with maintenance in mind. Things like raised beds, mulch, and drip irrigation can make it easier to maintain your garden throughout a long summer.
  • Stretch before and after. Hoing, raking, lifting, bending, kneeling, squatting. They can all use muscles that are not used to working quite so hard. Stretch a little before you start to discourage injury and again at the end to decrease sore muscles.
  • Pace yourself. Take the time to sit and rest between tasks. Incorporate a bench or a stump in your garden design, or bring a bucket you can turn over and sit on.
  • Alternate Tasks. Prevent muscle fatigue by moving back and forth between tasks that use different parts of your body.
  • Stay hydrated. Bring water with you and drink small amounts often.
  • Bring your own shade. Wear a hat, bring an umbrella, or work in the early morning or evening hours when the sun’s rays are not so strong.

With a little care, gardening can provide great exercise as well as delicious produce. And that’s a better deal than any gym membership around!

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