The Joy of Weeding

by Stacy Walters

Spending time in the garden is the perfect way to relieve stress and squeeze in some physical activity. In fact, when I need a pick-me-up, I prescribe myself a healthy dose of weeding!

There are many benefits of working in the yard and garden, yet about one in every five do-it-yourself injuries occurs during the activity. It is important to recognize that gardening does not cause injury--poor gardening technique causes injury.

Spending just a few moments reviewing the following guidelines will enhance body awareness and protect you from unnecessary soreness or injury.

Proper Body Position

The number one rule to remember while weeding is to avoid bending over at the waist! Instead, try alternating between squatting (bending at the hip and knee), kneeling on a pad, and sitting on a stool. The Sit & Store Caddy & Seat is a handy rolling seat including a multi-purpose cushion that detaches for use as a kneeler. The convenient ride-along tool bin with drink holder attaches to outside of cart to make weeding tools more accessible. I've been known to drop weeds in the yard or garden after pulling them, so my favorite feature is the 5-gallon bucket dock for fast and easy weed disposal.

Remember to keep your work close to you and tighten your abdominal muscles to protect your back if you need to reach or move.

Proper Grip

Always use a right angled grip to ensure proper alignment of the forearm, wrist, and fingers. This is actually much easier than it may seem. For example, when gripping the Softouch Weeder simply take the tool, direct the point at the target weed, and shake hands with it (similar to gripping a golf club for the golfers out there). The unique over-molded grip is slightly oversized with a large, flat end pad which can be used to generate additional leverage when penetrating the soil. The grip's shape encourages a neutral wrist position which helps alleviate fatigue. The right angled grip method seamlessly prepares the body to recruit the appropriate muscles of the hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, and neck to perform the work. Avoid the mistake of grabbing toward the end of the tool as if you were grabbing a doorknob. In this position the wrist is immediately set up to take the brunt of the work and is prepped for a twisting motion. Twisting should be avoided while gardening to prevent unnecessary joint strain.

  • In addition to body positioning, consider implementing the following Fit to Garden basics to weed out the aches and pains.
  • Complete a gardening warm-up wrist, arm, and shoulder stretches
  • Begin with easier gardening tasks and progress to more difficult projects
  • Stay hydrated
  • Don't spend too long in one position, be sure to alternate tasks
  • Wear gloves for extra cushion
  • Perform post-gardening wrist, arm, and shoulder stretches
  • Stop when you're tired, that's when most gardening injuries occur

The bonus of performing mindful movement as you weed your garden is that you will also be burning approximately 180 calories every 30 minutes.

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