Now that 4th winter seems to finally be over, maybe we’ll all be able to venture out into our yards and gardens and get them into some sort of shape during the approximately 2 weeks of spring we’re set to have this year.
Whether you managed to get out and get a few things cleaned up while we were still in fool’s spring, or you haven’t started yet, I’ve got a few tips to keep you pain free while you beautify your yard.
Use the Right Tools to Prevent Pain
You know that twisting yourself into a pretzel to reach things and staying too long in one position are great ways to end up in your chiropractor’s or massage therapist’s office. You’ll still do it, but you know better. So do I.
Anyway, every massage therapist seems to address posture and body mechanics when writing about gardening so I’m taking a different tack. Don’t get me wrong, body mechanics are super important, but it’s difficult to have good body mechanics if you don’t have the right tools. So let’s talk about a few tools that can help you have have less pain while gardening.
Save your knees – If you kneel a lot, you know that constant pressure on your knees can make them hurt both during and after your gardening activities. There are several tools that can help with this:
Knee pads – Most garden kneeling pads are somewhere in the vicinity of 1 foot wide by 2 foot long and run 1-2 inches thick. Bonus, the kneeling pad can double as a seat if you want to give your knees a break and sit for a while. If you don’t want to buy a knee pad, fold up an old towel or blanket to sufficient depth and kneel on that instead.
Wearable knee pads – If you find the rectangular pads inconvenient, why not try wearable knee pads. Not only will these be useful in small spaces, they also give your knees extra support on the sides which can be useful if you tend to roll your legs and kneel on the sides of your knees.
Kneeler/kneeling bench – If you trouble getting up from a kneeling position, one of these could be just the ticket. Kneelers are basically kneeling pads that have a framework with handles to help you get up. They could also keep you from falling over if you tend to garden with a glass of wine. I hope that’s not just me. Many of these kneeler benches also have tool pouches that attach for extra usefulness.
Save your hands – Avoid dirt, blisters, and scratches by wearing a pair of good gardening gloves. Bonus, many gloves have a textured surface which will increase your grip on those slippery weeds, too. There are many types of gardening gloves so choose the one(s) that’s right for your needs. A few types include:
Cloth – Standard gloves to keep your hands clean.
Nitrile – These gloves fit your hands snugly so you don’t lose dexterity while you’re working.
Leather – Leather is especially good at protecting you from thorns, splinters, and other sharp things that can give you a handful of cuts and scrapes.
Gauntlet – These gloves extend their protection through part of your forearm
Insulated – Gardening in Michigan before June? You might wanna keep your hands warm with a pair of these bad boys.
Waterproof – Gardening during a break in the spring rains? Keep your hands dry with waterproof gloves. Also great for picking up piles of leaves that seem dry on the surface but are sopping wet inside.
Save your bum – If your knees won’t let your kneel, or if kneeling makes you too low and standing makes you too high to do what you need to do… sit. There are all manner of sitting devices out there designed for the garden. Among them:
Kneeling bench – These benches can be adjusted from kneeling to sitting heights, making them extremely versatile. Many of these kneeler benches have tool pouches that attach for extra usefulness.
Tractor scooter – These bad boys have a place for your tools in the back and some even have a bucket holder near the front. Note: their big tires will keep them from making trenches or sinking into soft dirt.
Wheeled scooters – Sit on one of these low-riders and propel yourself along with your with your feet. Many have seats that swivel for maximum usefulness.
Save your shoulders and back – Many of the normal gardening tools come in a long handled versions as well. This means you won’t have to stretch to an uncomfortable level and risk muscle strain. It also means, you’ll be able to do some of the work while standing. A few items that can be found in long handled versions are
Cultivator – That 3-pronged tool that helps break up compact soil and dig under roots, is available with handles of varying lengths.
Hoe – While there is no longer a short-handled hoe, the long handled one can be quite useful for a few jobs.
Raised bed cultivator/double tool – Even if you don’t have raised beds, this tool will give you an 18 inch handle with a 3 prong cultivator and a hoe facing opposite directions at the far end. So maybe there is a short(er) handled hoe after all. There is also a regular long handled version of the double tool as well.
Pruners – These gardening staples come in both short and long handled versions. No more stretching on your tiptoes to reach one more branch, and you’ll need fewer stools and ladders as well.
Trowel – That “little shovel” also comes in a long handled version. And, no, that full size spade you already own will not make a good substitute. The digging part of the long handled trowel remains narrow so it can do the job it’s intended to do.
I hope this info makes your gardening much more pleasant, or at least less painful.