Be Good To Yourself in the Garden

Oh My Aching Hand!

All I did was prune three bushes and spread some mulch around with a rake on Earth Day. OK, maybe I also lifted weights and relocated a couch in the sunroom too soon after. But really, am I that fragile? The truth is, yes. I’ve reached the age where one needs to “prepare and take care” before and while doing the same tasks that were mindless chores only a few years ago.

Let’s accept the quirky changes in our bodies, the ones that materialize oh so slowly (wrinkles, loose skin…) and those that stab us, sometimes literally, in the back as the shovel bites the earth. In my case – suddenly broken blood vessels in the middle finger of my left hand – swelling, ugly bruising, limited range of flexion. I need that middle finger. Next time, I’ll wear gloves.


by Alison Arnold, Extension Agent, Consumer Horticulture, Buncombe County Cooperative Extension Service

Bend at the knees when lifting – use the strength of your legs to help with the lift.

Carry loads close to the body rather than with arms straight out to avoid strain to the lower back and neck.

Carry frequent but lighter loads rather than a few heavy loads.

Use the wheelbarrow to help transfer heavy objects, keep loads light.

Engage your core to reduce pressure off the spine and help protect the back.

Use tools with longer handles to avoid over bending or over reaching.

When replacing tools replace with something more lightweight if possible.

Take breaks, stretch often and try not to stay too long in the one position.

Mix up the tasks to help you not to over tire one muscle group e.g. trimming the hedge and planting.

Drink water and use sunscreen.

Ask for help or hire the services of someone who can do the job.

Know when to stop and smell the roses!