Gardening is a healthy, stimulating physical activity that should be enjoyed by us all well into our older years. Gardening increases levels of physical activity, and maintains mobility and flexibility.
Of course, from time to time this can mean that gardening can be associated with injuries, strains and overuse problems. So here are some tips to help minimize this from hopefully occurring:
- Keep in mind that there are many different bits and pieces of equipment out there to make things easier: gardening beds, equipment and tools are often produced and can be modified in ways that can make the activity much easier in terms of force used, and improve accessibility and productivity. Those kneeling stools are a must have!
- Be careful with your skin: being older does mean more fragile, thinning skin, and can make you susceptible to bumps, bruises and sunburn. So long sleeved and legged clothing can be helpful.
- Keep yourself in a stable position – don’t try and reach out from the ladder for that one branch you can’t quite get. As we age falls are more common because balance is often not as good. So move your equipment into a more stable position, or get someone to help with the activity.
- Use raised garden beds as much as possible to avoid bending and stooping and putting unnecessary strain on the back, hips and knees.
- Use foam, tape and plastic tubing to modify existing tools for a better grip
- Cold night and resultant frosty mornings can continue well into the spring months in New Zealand, so make sure paths and surfaces are level and safe, and wait until the sun has done it’s work to clear the paths of this before you start. But equally, be sun-safe, in terms of covering up properly, using sunscreen, and hydrating yourself regularly.
- Use mulches and membranes to cut down on weeding. Those stubborn weeds can be a real cause of shoulder tendon injuries from my experience.
The best piece of advice I could give? Be honest – know your strengths and admit your limitations, and ask others for help with tasks that you don’t think you can manage. There’s always something you can offer in return if need be.