Gardening Without Pain

This gardening season, work your muscles as you work the soil — but take care!

By FamilyTime


The sun is warm on our backs and our gardens beckon. This is the time of year gardeners feel the pull of the earth and nothing can keep them from their gardens — not rain nor mud nor lengthening shadows.

But even the most devoted gardener can be sidelined by a pulled back or sore knees. The less enthusiastic gardener may simply pack it in if he or she finds the work too strenuous.

With a few commonsense guidelines, this need not happen. Here are six tips to help all gardeners enjoy their time outdoors while they help things grow.

  1. Have the right tools: Tools with short handles will mean you have to stoop or bend unnecessarily. Those that are dull or broken will mean awkward contortions on your part to make them work. Do yourself a favor and buy tools that are right for you.
  2. Stretch while you work: Gardening is a workout and since most of us would never start a gym workout or a five-mile run without stretching first, the same is true of working in the garden. Stretch before you begin and again several times during the time spent in the yard, and then after you finish. You will feel better and look forward to your next time in the garden.
  3. Vary chores: You may be dying to get the vegetable garden tilled or rake all the leaves from beneath the shrubbery, but don’t stick with repetitive motions for too long. Move around the yard and garden, raking for a while, digging for a while, and so on. This way you will avoid injury to weakened muscles and joints.
  4. Use your knees: You’ve heard it before and we’ll repeat it again — it does your back no favors to bend over. Use your knees and keep your back as straight as you can. Whether you are turning compost or moving soil from one bed to another, bend with your knees, please! And when you work on your knees, use a small mat, folded cardboard or something similar to cushion them.
  5. Wear sunblock on your face, arms, hands, and neck. The sun can be deceptively strong and it’s no fun to nurse a sunburn. A hat protects your scalp from the sun. Wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy. If the day is cool, dress in layers and discard clothing as you work. Make sure the clothes are old so you can toss your extra sweatshirt or shirt on the ground or in the wheelbarrow.
  6. Start small: If you are a seasoned gardener, no doubt you have several beds under cultivation. Beginners should understand that gardens don’t happen overnight. Start with a small plot. You can add beds as the months go on, or as the years progress. Don’t let your expectations exceed your abilities or available time.

Experts agree that gardening can be a good cardiovascular workout, as well as one that benefits muscles. Don’t expect miracles, but do expect to feel and look better — and to have a lovely yard in the bargain.