I have always enjoyed being outside and have often found a little yard work to be a great way to get some exercise on the weekend. My yard work, however, was always limited to just that, a quick weekend project. Now that quarantine and pandemic are part of my daily vocabulary, gardening and yard work have almost become daily for me as well.
You see, I live out in the woods in Fairview. We have beautiful native plants in our woods like Lily of the Valley and Daylilies, but they’re accompanied by some of the more distasteful plants like English Ivy and of course the dreaded Poison Ivy. My first big project when quarantine began was to clear the leaves from the area where the Lily of the Valley and the Periwinkle ground cover grows.
There I would be, minding my own business when all of a sudden my rake would get caught in a vine. I didn’t want whatever this pesky newcomer was to choke out the “pretty” plants so I decided to pull it. I would pull and pull with no results; It was a hearty little thing! At this point, the vine looked dead with no leaves growing on it and I thought nothing of it. At one point my mom came out to help, neither of us suspected the surprise that was awaiting us.
You may have guessed this already if you spend time in the garden yourself, but the vine turned out to be poison ivy. Somehow I came away with no rash; my mom, however, was not so lucky. This brings me to :
Gardening Tip #1: Always wear proper attire
Maybe I was lucky because I was wearing gloves, maybe my skin is not as sensitive to it, we will never know. What I do know though is that I will wear pants, long sleeves, gloves, and boots if I decide to do that again because my poor mom was miserable and I know that I don’t want that fate for myself.
In the midst of all of the pulling and raking, and of course and moving a hydrangea bush, my back sure did get sore. One would think that I would know better, being a physical therapist. But the thoughts didn’t cross my mind until I was already in pain. I thought “well silly, why didn’t you stretch before you started?” This gets us to:
Gardening Tip #2: STRETCH!
Gardening and yard work can be just as strenuous as any structured workout, and you should treat it that way. You wouldn’t go straight for the hardest exercise or most weight in the gym so you shouldn’t go straight out in the yard or garden to do the hardest task without warming up first. Take a walk or pick a smaller task to do first to warm up then make sure to stretch afterward.
Stretching will get you a long way in preventing post-gardening pain and soreness, but to protect your back you need –
Gardening Tip #3: Use your core!
Raking, shoveling, and weed-eating, etc all involve a twisting motion that can be harmful to your spine when your core is not engaged. So to protect your back, consistently engage your core any time you are twisting and turning your body. If you need some extra guidance here, shoot me an email!
After reflecting on some of my projects, the above tips are the ones that stood out the most to me. Should you find yourself needing more guidance, our talented therapists at Physio can give you just that. I am so thankful for the beauty that surrounds me and for being able to be outside completing projects during this quarantine. Take care everyone, and enjoy the beauty around you!