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51 Underhill Drive, Don Mills (Toronto) 
(416) 441-9222

Garden Safely

Raking, hoeing, lifting, digging, kneeling, planting is strenuous physical activity that merits the same attention to avoid back and muscle pain and injury. Keep these tips from the BC Chiropractic Association in mind:

  • Give your muscles a chance to warm up before working in the yard or garden. Practice stretching with the various movements you will be working in the yard, or take a short ten- to fifteen-minute walk around the block.

  • Avoid prolonged bending, pushing, and pulling while raking and hoeing, which can strain shoulders or the lower back.

  • Kneel to weed and plant: Constant bending and squatting can put strain on your back, neck and leg muscles. You can buy special knee pads and mats that make kneeling on the ground more comfortable. Or, sit on a small stool rather than bend.

  • Use long-handled tools to avoid bending forward and sideways as you work which can cause you to strain your neck or lower back.

  • Do the "scissors" when you rake: Stand with your right leg forward and your left leg back while you rake. Switch every few minutes. This will keep you from bending and twisting your way into a sore back.

  • Change hands frequently: Changing hands when raking and hoeing prevents muscle strain on one side of the body. Try to stand as straight as possible with your head upright.

  • When using a hedge trimmer, keep your back straight and use short strokes to avoid upper arm and neck strain. Pause every three to five minutes.

  • Carry medium- to small-sized loads of debris close to your body, or use a wheelbarrow to avoid strain on your back. Save heavier work for midway through your chores. This helps avoid sudden strenuous exertion on unused muscles and joints.

  • Lift properly: Face the object you plan to lift, bend your knees, and draw the load close to your body. Use the muscle power of your legs to lift. Don't lift heavy objects above your waist.

  • Keep overhead work to five-minute episodes. Avoid extreme reaching with one arm.

  • Hydrate and stretch: And finally, drink plenty of fluids throughout your workday. Cool down at the end of your garden workout by doing some stretches or take a short walk around the block. Stretching exercises will help prevent recurrences of spinal and related health problems. Back exercises should deal with flexibility first, strength second.

  • Finally, if a task seems like too much work, it probably is. Hire a professional for big tasks like landscaping, tree topping, or trimming large hedges.

If gardening has literally become a pain in the neck, call Balanced Health Care for some relief!