Finally, it is that time of year when plants are in bloom and gardens are full of every color imaginable. Gardening is a task that can actually put a lot of stress on your muscles and joints. Just consider how long you might be sitting in a crouched position or how many times you pull your arm back in just the same way to yank a weed. No wonder your shoulders and back are talking to you at the end of the day!
You can prevent many of these problems simply by varying your activity frequently. Listen to what your body is telling you. When you start to feel an area get tight or cramp, stop what you are doing, stretch, and switch activities for a little while. Body mechanics are also vital, especially to avoid unnecessary back strain. Bend from your knees and maintain stability through your core as you attempt to bend forward. Be sure to use a wheelbarrow or cart to move heavier things.
Beyond your musculoskeletal system, don’t forget that you will potentially be out in the sun for an extended period of time. Protect your skin with appropriate clothing and sunscreen. It is also important to know you limits in the heat and to drink more water than you normally would. Watch for signs of heat-related illness, including extremely high body temperature, headache, rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, confusion, or unconsciousness. Even though you aren’t doing a traditional “exercise”, you are still working hard – treat your body accordingly!