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How to Avoid Common Gardening Injuries

  • Pain Relief
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Gardening is a wonderful outdoor activity, enjoyed by many people during the warm, sunny and breezy spring months. However, for anyone who has ever spent the day bent over in the garden, shoveling for several hours or taking several wheelbarrow loads of mulch from the driveway to the backyard, you've likely experienced the lower back pain that accompanies those activities.

Common Gardening Injuries
One of the most common injuries related with gardening and yard work, after hand injuries, is lower back pain. Bending your back to get those stubborn weeds and twisting your body while shoveling can put an added amount of stress on your shoulders and spine, which can then lead to soreness and discomfort in the preceding days. If it's your back that's bothering you the most after a day of landscaping, use the Sunbeam® Body-Shaped Heating Pad with Hot & Cold Pack to help bring quick acting relief and comfort. Designed specifically for back pain, this heating pad provides soothing relief by conforming to your body and delivering maximized heat therapy. With soft fabric and flexible Velcro straps, you can attach this comfortably on the site of the injury and continue about your afternoon.

If your shoulders and neck are feeling tense after a day of mowing, shoveling or planting, using the Sunbeam® XL Renue® Heat Therapy Wrap will help you to relax by providing therapeutic heat directly to the area that needs it. The unique shape, weighted sides and upper flap allow for comfortable, direct treatment of the neck, back and shoulder areas. Best of all, you can choose from four different heat settings to find the one that will best reduce your stress and strain.

It's important to take precautions when gardening to avoid strains or injuries.It's important to take precautions when gardening to avoid strains or injuries.

However, just because you've experienced discomfort in the past doesn't mean you need to give up those lovely mornings spent planting flowers or picking fresh, juicy tomatoes from your garden. Instead, follow these simple tricks and tips for a pain-free day outside.

When it comes to shoveling, you can help take some of the pressure off your back simply by choosing the right shovel. A shovel with a curved handle will help reduce spinal stress by keeping your back straighter. It's best to choose a shovel that is long enough so you are not constantly bending. Opt for a plastic shovel head instead of metal - not only is it lighter, which will help to relieve some of the stress - but there's also less chance of other injury when using a plastic blade.

Before you begin shoveling, anchor one foot behind the other for stability. When you lean forward onto the shovel, let your weight sink the shovel into the ground - this will help to avoid strain or injury. When lifting the dirt, mulch or weed pile from the ground, shift your weight to your back anchor leg and be sure that you are bending at the knees and hips, not at the back. Finally, move and turn your entire body where you want to place the dirt, to avoid pulling or straining your back.

Put your entire body weight onto the shovel when digging into the ground.Put your entire body weight onto the shovel when digging into the ground.

Using a Wheelbarrow
Oftentimes when preparing your garden or backyard for the spring and summer seasons, you'll be doing several wheelbarrow trips to bring back supplies, flower pots and the like. First and foremost, it's best to take several, lighter trips. Though you may want to hurry the process along by reducing the work to a few, heavy loads, this will only increase your risk of injury. When using the wheelbarrow, grip the handles from underneath with an underhand grip. Similar to shoveling, it's important to always bend at the knees and hips, not at the back. When lifting the wheelbarrow to dump, use your hip muscles to push up, which are much stronger than your back muscles.

Those stubborn little weeds that never seem to go away may have you bent over on all fours several times a week. Even potting and planting flowers, fruits and vegetables in your garden may have you down on your hands and knees often. To avoid putting strain on your back while in this position, there are few things to keep in mind. Always keep your spine long - this means that it remains parallel to the ground as much as possible, from your head all the way to your tailbone. When weeding, use your whole body to pull the plant back, as opposed to yanking with your arm and hand. Try to limit the action to just your core and trunk, and if you begin to feel strain in your back, neck or shoulders, take a break.

Be aware of your body position when weeding or working in the garden.Be aware of your body position when weeding or working in the garden.

Additional Tips
In general, staying hydrated and taking frequent breaks are key for avoiding pain while working in the backyard. When you are tired or have overworked yourself, you're more likely to pull a muscle, make a mistake or injure yourself. If you are planning to tackle new tasks that will engage muscles that have not been worked in some time, it's best to stretch and even warm up before hand.