Gardening Safety Tips

From the International Chiropractors Association's (ICA) July 5th 2001 publication of the Chiropractic News Service appears tips and warnings concerning safe gardening linked to spinal health. A result of the emphasis on a healthy spine referring to a healthy nervous system and thus overall good health, the ICA issued the gardening tips as a preventative measure. The ICA release starts by saying, "The best preparation for safe summer gardening is a body properly conditioned and sustained by exercise, good posture, and chiropractic care all year long.

The ICA continued to recommend a list of 10 "Do's and Don'ts of Gardening" The following tips are created to allow you to garden safely.

The ICA's Do's and Don'ts of Gardening

1. Warm up with light movement or a brisk walk to loosen the muscles and improve your flexibility. The smooth coordination of the muscles and ligaments is an integral part of safe exertion in gardening and other activities.
2. Know your strengths and limitations. Never overexert, vary your activities, and take regular rest breaks.
3. Avoid bending over repeatedly while standing upright when performing ground-level work like weeding. Get down closer to the job by kneeling or sitting on the ground or a gardening bench, as an alternative to bending and twisting from the waist.
4. Keep your back protected while you stand up coming from a sitting or crouched position. Stand up by straightening your legs at the knees, not by lifting your torso at the waist.
5. Lift dirt and plants by allowing your arms, legs and thighs carry the burden: bend and straighten at the knees rather than the back and hips. Lift the burden near the body's torso and center of gravity, and handle smaller, more manageable loads each time.
6. Use long-handled tools to provide you with leverage and help you to avoid being forced to stoop while raking, digging, pushing or mowing.
7. Switch hands frequently when doing prolonged raking, hoeing or digging actions. Repetitive motion on one side may bring on progressively serious joint imbalances and might produce postural misalignments and pain, including muscle spasms in the neck, shoulder and lower back.
8. Do not work too long in a single position, especially one that is awkward or unusual. This could reduce circulation, restrict mobility, and promote strain injuries.
9. Carry objects close to your body. Keeping the load close to your center of gravity reduces the risk of straining your neck and back.
10. Don't overexpose yourself to long periods in the sun. Utilize protective measures for your head and skin, drink plenty of fluids, and take frequent breaks.

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