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Senior Lifestyles

Tips for avoiding injury, strain while gardening

5/2/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

There are many things senior citizens can do to prevent injury while gardening.
Photo courtesy of ARAcontent
Whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or a newbie to home planting, gardening is a great activity that provides both physical and mental health benefits.

In addition to burning calories while enjoying the peacefulness of Mother Nature, gardening also rewards you with fresh fruits and vegetables. But one unwelcome part of taking up gardening as a hobby is the potential for strain and injury.

To get the most out of your time gardening, consider these tips for avoiding physical discomfort:

  1. Start with a few stretches: Before grabbing your tools and heading to your yard, spend 5 or 10 minutes doing stretches focusing on your arms, legs, back and neck.
  2. Avoid bending and lifting the wrong way: Chronic back pain is an issue for many Americans both young and old. Just because you have back issues doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy gardening. Consider installing raised garden beds, which allow you to garden without having to bend over. Additionally, container gardens can be placed on tables or deck railings for easy access. If you don’t suffer from back pain, avoid back injury by bending and lifting the right way. Remember to maintain good posture, minimize quick twisting motions, bend at the hips and knees only, lift items in a slow and controlled manner and enlist help, if necessary.
  3. Protect hands and wrists: Gardening can be physically demanding, and the repetitive motions of weeding, hoeing, raking or shoveling can be problematic for the hands and wrists, particularly if you suffer from arthritis. Minimize irritation by wearing a supportive glove, like Imak arthritis gloves, recommended by the Arthritis Foundation for ease-of-use. These specially designed gloves provide mild compression that helps increase circulation, which ultimately reduces pain and promotes healing.
  4. Protect the skin from the sun: One of the best parts of gardening is you get to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, but that can mean extended time in the sun, so it’s important to protect your skin. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and light cotton clothing that covers exposed skin are good first steps. Always apply a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion that is SPF 30 or higher at least 15 minutes prior to going outside, as recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.

This article was provided courtesy of ARAcontent.

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