By: Dr. Doron Ilan
For most of us who enjoy gardening, it is a relaxing, safe hobby. However, every year we see many people who are needlessly injured in their backyards. Nationally more than 400,000 gardening injuries are seen in the ER every year. Back injuries, hand lacerations/puncture wounds, infections, overuse tendinitis, bug bites, and heat exhaustion are some of the more common medical conditions seen in recreational gardeners. Here are a few tips to keep you safe this spring and summer.
- Warm up: One of the most common mistakes is to head straight to the shed and start lifting heavy bags of mulch, soil, and equipment. This can lead to back sprains and muscle strains. Instead, first, take a 5-10 brisk walk to warm up the muscles, loosen the joints and get the heart rate up a bit.
- Wear gloves: This will prevent most thorn punctures, blisters, lacerations, and bug bites. It will also protect your skin from pesticides, bacteria, and fungus (often live in soil). A small cut can lead to a major infection. A light long sleeve shirt and long socks or pants can’t hurt either. Don’t forget the sunscreen and a hat.
- Hydrate: It is very easy to spend hours gardening without drinking. Bring a bottle of water outside with you and sip regularly
- Rotate your tasks: Avoid overuse repetitive stress injuries by not spending more than 10-15 minutes in a row doing the same motion. Make sure your gardening activities are varied so that the same muscles are not used repetitively.
- Use proper equipment
- Check your skin for ticks after you finish gardening for the day. Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections are very common in our area.
Following these tips can help minimize your risk, but of course, if you do sustain an injury make sure to get medical attention as soon as possible. Have a great spring and summer — and enjoy your gardening!
If you do encounter an orthopedic injury while gardening, contact us today to find out what’s wrong and how we can help.