Connecticut Garden Journal: Adaptive Gardening
As I nurse a sore shoulder, I'm reminder of all the things I should be doing to keep my body in shape for gardening season. It's so easy this time of year to do too much. There's flowers to plant, shrubs to dig and move, compost and mulch to spread and bags of fertilizer to carry. I think I'm keeping myself is pretty good shape through winter, but garden chores work a whole other bunch of muscles.
So, let's pause a moment and review some ways to make gardening easier on our bodies. First, take the time to warm up in the morning. Ten minutes of yoga stretching and moving around will loosen joints and muscles making it less likely to pull them when gardening. Also, start with less physical chores such as planting, transplanting and raking.
When doing heavier chores, such as digging and carrying, be aware of your alignment. Hold bags of mulch and fertilizer close to your body when walking to engage core muscles. Use long handled shovels to dig, bend your knees and turn from your waist. It's better to engage large muscle groups than use just arms and shoulders to dig and lift. Consider getting adaptive tools such as ergonomic rakes and shovels. These have cushioned grips that are easier on your hands and some are shaped to keep your back upright when digging and raking.
Consider building waist high raised beds for veggies and flowers to reduce back pain. When bending support your knees with pads on the ground and look for adaptive hand tools that reduce stress on your wrists and arms.