grandson and grandmother gardening

Don’t Let an Injury Keep You from the Joys of Gardening

If you have recently hurt your back, knees, neck, or shoulders while gardening, you are by no means alone. Every year, large numbers of people on Long Island suffer gardening injuries during spring, summer, and fall. How ironic that working in the yard — a task so relaxing that some people find it a meditative experience — tends to cause aches and pains. 

Fortunately, at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our physiatrists are familiar with musculoskeletal injuries that occur in our patients’ backyards and know precisely how to diagnose them and heal them. We have the knowledge, skills, and advanced equipment to ease pain and restore full function. Why not contact us now, before your injury becomes worse, or even chronic? 

Pros and Cons of Gardening in Terms of Exercise

In addition to relieving tension and anxiety, gardening can provide excellent ways to keep fit and flexible, not to mention connecting us to the beauties of the natural world. Nonetheless, unless you have prepared your body to stretch, lift, and bend, your back and joints may pay a high price for these benefits.

When do most gardening injuries occur?

Typically, gardening injuries occur in the spring, during the planting season when the ground is thawed and welcoming, and during the fall when leaves need raking, trees need pruning, and spring bulbs need planting. The summer may present with fewer injuries because:

  1. Those who garden have usually been more active during the warm weather so their bodies are more prepared for the activity and
  2. Many gardeners are not as drawn gardening during the hottest days of the year

Of course, gardening injuries also happen in the summer because tending — i.e.weeding, removal of dead branches, and so on still have to be done. Summer gardeners may just adapt by working early in the morning or late in the afternoon or early evening to avoid the midday heat. Though more comfortable without the overhead sun beating down, however, they may still suffer a gardening injury.

Take the Following Steps Before You Rush Out to Garden

To avoid gardening injuries, it is best to:

  • Warm-up before you begin by taking a short walk and doing some stretches.
  • Make sure you understand how to lift heavy objects properly so that your discs, muscles, and ligaments are supported
  • Use a wagon, dolly, or gardening scooter to move heavy supplies 
  • Consider soaker hoses or underground sprinkles to avoid unnecessary bending to move sprinklers
  • Take frequent breaks to rest, stretch, and hydrate
  • Use supportive kneeling supports to reduce stress on your knees and back
  • Use innovative, long-handled tools to avoid uncomfortable reaching
  • Create higher gardens, on gardening tables or high mounds of earth, especially if you have arthritis or another condition that makes bending or kneeling difficult or impossible. 

Common Gardening Injuries

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we frequently encounter the following gardening-related injuries in our patients. We are well-prepared to diagnose and treat these and other muscle and joint conditions without any surgical procedures:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome — nerve compression caused by pressure on the median nerve of the wrist
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome, though often a sports injury affecting those who run and jump, also affects gardeners who strain their knees by bending them for extended periods, causing inflammation
  • Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylosis), involves a strain of the tendons in the forearm
  • DeQuervain syndrome in which the tendons that straighten the thumb become painful as they pass through a tunnel narrowed by thickened tendons.
  • Herniated vertebral discs caused or exacerbated by bending, lifting, or twisting
  • Arthritis of any joint caused or worsened by particular repetitive gardening activities, such as bending the knees, extending the arms, or gripping tightly with the hands

Contact Our Experienced Doctors and Get Back to the Garden

Don’t let an injury keep you from the pleasures of gardening. At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine we have multiple means to diagnose your problem and many ways to treat it. We are experts at alleviating pain and restoring function. Why not give us a call now?