In the International Chiropractors Association’s (ICA) July 5th 2001 issue of the Chiropractic News Service appears tips and warnings concerning safe gardening related to spinal health. Because of the emphasis on a healthy spine relating to a healthy nervous system and therefore overall good health, the ICA issued the gardening tips as a preventative measure. The ICA release starts by saying, “The best preparation for safe summer gardening is a body properly conditioned and supported by exercise, good posture, and chiropractic care all year round.
The ICA went on to recommend a list of 10 “Do’s and Don’ts of Gardening” These guidelines are designed to help you garden safely.
The ICA’s Do’s and Don’ts of Gardening
- Warm up with light movement or a brisk walk to loosen your muscles and increase your flexibility. The smooth coordination of your muscles and ligaments is an important part of safe exertion in gardening and other activities.
- Know your strengths and limitations. Do not overexert, vary your activities, and take regular rest breaks.
- Avoid bending over repeatedly while standing upright when performing ground-level work like weeding. Get down closer to the task by kneeling or sitting on the ground or a gardening bench, rather than bending and twisting from the waist.
- Keep your back protected when you stand up from a sitting or crouched position. Rise up by straightening your legs at the knees, not by lifting your torso at the waist.
- Lift dirt and plants by letting your arms, legs and thighs carry the load: bend and straighten at the knees instead of the back and hips. Lift the load close to the body’s torso and centre of gravity, and handle smaller, more manageable loads at a time.
- Use long-handled tools to give you leverage and help you avoid having to stoop while raking, digging, pushing or mowing.
- Switch hands frequently when doing prolonged raking, hoeing or digging actions. Repetitive motion on one side can bring on progressively serious joint imbalances and may produce postural misalignments and pain, including muscle spasms in the neck, shoulder and lower back.
- Don’t work too long in one position, especially one that is awkward or unusual. This can reduce circulation, restrict mobility, and promote strain injuries.
- Carry objects close to your body. Keeping the load close to your centre of gravity reduces the risk of straining your neck and back.
- Don’t overexpose yourself to long periods in the sun. Utilize protective measures for your head and skin, drink plenty of fluids, and take frequent breaks.