After the long, cold winter months, spring is finally starting to bloom here in Central PA! Increased sunlight, warm weather, and blossoming flowers brighten everyone's day; but spring does not come without its challenges, especially as you start to dig into yard work and attempt to pull out those unrelenting weeds. CPRS wants to keep you safe and injury-free as you begin your spring gardening.
Benefits of Gardening
Gardening is a great activity that provides many health benefits beyond physical exercise; it can also improve your eating habits as well as your mental health. First of all, gardening aids in endurance and strength as you rake and carry leaves. Gardeners tend to consume more produce (vegetables and fruit) more often than those who don't "play in the dirt." They also tend to have fewer instances of cardiovascular disease and mental illness since gardening can relieve stress and be a healthful escape from job pressures and other daily responsibilities.
Common Causes of Injury
The most common gardening and yard work injuries are traumatic injuries and/or repetitive strain injuries.
Traumatic injuries, such as lacerations, contusions, ankle sprains, etc. occur every year- 400,000 of which end up being treated in the Emergency Room.
Repetitive injuries, such as a muscle strain, are the other major cause for concern when gardening. A muscle strain (muscle pull), or even a muscle tear can damage the muscle or its attaching tendons. This typically occurs from prolonged use or recurring movement patterns such as raking or bending over. Statistics show that 40% of gardeners will experience some sort of muscle strain this season, typically involving the hands, wrist, arms, shoulders, or neck.
CPRS physical Therapy wants to help prevent future injuries from occurring. Here are common injuries you may experience and a few helpful tips to prevent their occurrence in the first place:
Back Injury (usually caused by heavy lifting)
- Ask for help
- Slide things, when possible
- While lifting, keep items as close to your body as possible
- Carry the load in front of you
- Bend with your knees, not your back, and tighten your abdomen muscles when lifting
- Wear comfortable footwear
- Do not dig in sandals or unsupportive shoes
- Be aware of the surfaces and your surroundings
Cuts and Wounds
- Wear heavy gloves, long sleeves and pants to avoid scratches and cuts
- You can actually contact tetanus from bacteria that lives in the soil
- Wash your hands well with soap and water, when finished
- Keep tools tidy and neat to avoid trips/falls
- Use a properly secured step stool or ladder to reach taller objects
- Wear harness, when appropriate, for pruning taller trees/bushes
Sunburn & Dehydration
- Wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat
- Avoid working outside during the hottest times of the day (11am-4pm), when you can be most exposed to sunlight
- Carry a water bottle with you and drink from it every 20 minutes
If you are feeling any pain or discomfort with any activity, you should stop what you are doing and seek the help of a medical professional. Feel free to call your local CPRS Physical Therapy for advice as well. If you need physical therapy, you can be treated for up to 30 days without a physician's script. Ask your local CPRS therapist about Direct Access to get the care you need and deserve right away!
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