Avoid gardening aches and pains with these easy steps

Early gardening season often leads to back and joint injuries because people are so eager to get into their yards they often forget to take steps to stay healthy.
Proper posture is key to avoiding injuries in the garden, including keeping that back straight when digging in the backyard.

With the onset of gardening weather, chiropractor Krista Revenberg sees a long line of clients coming through her office with sore backs and joints.

Those injuries are typical this time of year because people are so eager to get into their gardens, they often forget to take steps to avoid getting injured.

Revenberg is one of those gardeners who spends hours in her yard. She has several tips for anyone wanting to take it easy on their bodies while in their gardens.

Treat it like a workout - warm up

People commonly forget to stretch before they head out in the yard.

Because gardeners spend so much time kneeling, squatting and yanking out weeds, they should take a few minutes stretching their quads, hamstrings, wrists, arms and backs.

"You wouldn't go out and run a 100-metre race right away without warming up and you should look at gardening the same way," Revenberg said.

Proper positions

Gardeners often spend hours leaning over pulling weeds and planting. Without the right posture, this activity is a sure way to walk away with a sore back.

Revenberg suggests kneeling, which creates more of a "neutral" back position that engages all those core muscles that protect from injuries.

Chiropractor Krista Revenberg offers up three basic tips to avoid typical injuries that come with gardening. (Nathan Swinn/CBC)

Plenty of people have bad knees, so they are urged to use mats on the ground or knee pads.

Revenberg also suggests mixing up the tasks, so people aren't kneeling or squatting for too long.

"If I were to kneel for two hours and garden or I was to squat for two hours, I'm going to be sore either way," she said. "Be sure to switch up what you're doing."

Take breaks

Make sure to take breaks. Eager gardeners tend to toil in a bit of a frenzy when spring first hits, so they can sit back and enjoy their yards.

"People are excited. They want to get their gardening done in one shot and they'll sit there for two or three hours," Revenberg said.

She recommends even short breaks, so people have time to walk around, stretch more and stay hydrated.

"If you can imagine going for a two- or three-hour walk or a two- or three-hour run, you would be exhausted," Revenberg said. "It's the same thing with gardening."