For many people, gardening is one of life’s greatest joys. But exercising a green thumb carries some risks. In 2012, more than 41,200 people nationwide were injured while gardening, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. But don’t let a day of digging, weeding and watering get the best of you. You can prevent common gardening injuries with some of these tips:
• Safety goggles and gloves shield your eyes and skin from chemicals and pesticides and protect you from sharp or motorized equipment.
• Spending hours in the sun each day can lead to sunburn and can increase your chance of skin cancer. Sport a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher. Take frequent shady breaks, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun is at its highest.
• While watering your plants, don’t forget to water yourself. Drink plenty of liquids, but avoid alcohol, caffeinated or sugary beverages that will dehydrate you.
• Use lightweight hand tools with rubber handles and ergonomic designs. Tools with offset handles make digging and weeding easier. Or cover your current handles in foam tubing. Sharp, clean tools work better and require less effort, so maintain or replace your equipment often. Handle extenders can help reduce the need for bending, reaching and stretching.
• Stretch and get ready. “Prepare your knees and low back for all that bending and lifting. Before you get out of bed in the morning, lie on your back and pull your knees to your chest. Then drop your legs from side to side five to 10 times. If you begin this now, you'll be rewarded with greater flexibility and a reduced chance of sprains and strains later in the season,” says Dr. Lauri Grossman, a New York chiropractor who has been practicing homeopathy for over 25 years.
Check back here on Monday to learn about some natural remedies that you can use if you do get injured in your garden.