Preventing gardening injuries

Q. Every spring my friends and I go through lots of aches, pains and bottles of pain relievers. Is there a good way to prevent this?

Toni from Canfield

A. Gardening injuries can happen to individuals of all ages, but they are more apt to happen as we advance in years. Many changes occur in our bodies as we age, and safeguards, or at least recognition of these changes, will make gardening more rewarding.

One of our master-gardener volunteers, Hugh Earnhart, interviewed Dr. Meredith Konya of Poland, a physiatrist with Cleveland Clinic Canfield for advice on gardening injuries and hints on how to avoid them.

Physiatrists are physicians who treat injuries and illnesses that affect how you move. The specialty was developed in the 1930s and recognized in its own right in 1947. Common injuries encompassed in this field include carpal tunnel, neck/back pain, herniated discs/pinched nerves, arthritis/joint pain, stroke and spinal-cord injury. All can be experienced by gardeners at any age.

The most common are to the back, shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand, hip and knee. None should be ignored if you want to continue healthy garden practices.

Eric Barrett is OSU Ext. educator for agriculture and natural resources in Mahoning County. Call the office hotline at 330-533-5538 from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Thursdays to submit your questions.

how To prevent these injuries

Heavy lifting/carrying of materials.

Repetitive motions: spading, raking, tilling.

Awkward movements. Instead, align the body to the work.

Remaining stationary for long periods of time.

Protect your back, wear a brace.

Think what you’re about to do.

Have a seat to weed, plant, prune, rest.

Get a grip on the task to be accomplished, mentally and physically.

Exercise to warm-up to the task.

Use tools with wide grips.

Take a break.

Eat correctly.

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