July 31, 2009


LEWISBURG, Tenn. — Gardening is an increasingly popular hobby for many adults; however, the physical activity can lead to strain or injury. According to Marshall Medical Center (MMC) Director of Physical Therapy Kim Hill, abiding by several preventative tips will help protect your body and make gardening more enjoyable.

“The repetitive movements associated with gardening such as weeding, digging, lifting and pruning can put stress on the back, neck, knees, hands and wrists. If done with improper form, gardeners are at risk of physical injury,” said Hill. She offers the following tips to stay safe while gardening:

Always stretch before doing any yard work. Before starting work in your garden, prepare you muscles with simple stretches such as the shoulder shrug, head roll and wrist rotations. If you feel yourself getting stiff while in the garden, take a break and do more stretches. Change tasks so that you change positions frequently to prevent repetitive motion injuries.

Mind your posture. When planting, seeding or weeding, sit or kneel instead of bending over. Use a kneeling mat to protect knees if kneeling, or a cart or bucket if sitting. When pruning, keep your wrists as close to neutral as possible. If your wrists are bent or flexed, you have less strength and are more prone to injury. Always bend at the knees and keep your back straight when lifting any objects.

Use the proper tools. Gardening equipment should suit your size and physical capabilities. Use ergonomically designed tools and keep them well-sharpened so that less force is needed. Use gloves with rubber palms for efficient grasping. If you have arthritis in your hands, use garden tools with enlarged handles.

Know your limits. Let your normal physical activities dictate how strenuously you should work in the garden. Test the weight of an object by lifting one corner before attempting to lift it entirely. Roll or push rather than carry heavy loads.

“In addition to taking care of your joints and muscles while gardening, it is also important to take into consideration the sun and heat. Make sure that you take regular breaks and stay hydrated even when you do not think that you are thirsty or feel tired,” reminded Hill.

“Gardening can be an excellent way to get physical activity, decreasing one’s risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as contributing to healthier bones, muscles and joints. However, as with any physical activity, be sure to pace yourself and protect the health of your body,” added Hill.


The Physical Therapy Center of Marshall Medical Center is located in the medical office building at 1090 North Ellington Parkway, Suite 205. Convenient outpatient therapy rooms accommodate those who require therapy before or after work. Marshall Medical Center, an affiliate of Maury Regional Medical Center, offers a 24-hour emergency department as well as surgical, primary care and diagnostic services. Marshall Medical Center is accredited by the Joint Commission and has 27 physicians on the medical staff.