Spring is in the air! As the weather’s getting warmer we find ourselves drawn to fresh air and outdoor adventures. There are probably more than a few “to do” things on your wish list to accomplish spring. While warming temperatures may cause increased pain and swelling for joints, increased movement can ultimately help reduce overall pain. Spring is the perfect time for patients to tackle fun outside activities, like gardening.

Routine garden chores offer interesting ways to add extra physical therapy exercises into your daily lifestyle. In this time of flourish, you may be wanting some beautiful plants to brighten your day or maybe some fresh vegetables for your afternoon salad. One key to safe effective home-based physical exercises to improve injury recovery is to plan ahead.

Before starting gardening chores, get prepared. Gardening involves a lot of bending and moving to accomplish the planting, watering, and harvesting tasks. Performing simple stretches to improve flexibility and balance beforehand can be very helpful. Plan to stay safe! Depending on the type of injury, physical capabilities, and recovery goals involved, there are a variety of stretches that can help improve the healing process.

  • Mini Squats
  • Forward Trunk Bends
  • Backward Trunk bends
  • Trunk Side Bends
  • Standing Trunk Rotation
  • Wrist Flexion/Extension

Once stretched you are warmed up and ready to get started on your beautiful garden. Having the right supplies on hand and using them to stay comfortable is essential. For knee support, have a cushion handy (a folded towel or pillow will work just as well). It might look a little goofy. But, for core and wrist support, you can also place a chair in front of your knee cushion to use for bending over. Other precautions you can take are sun shields to create a cooler environment, changing positions frequently, taking frequent activity rest breaks, and exploring working in elevated pot or bed gardens.

These precautions help improve recovery and reduce the risks of any further injuries. Just remember to ease into new movements, give yourself plenty of support and take breaks when needed. Doing stretches at the beginning, middle, and end of your gardening session help reduce the risks of injury. What if an injury isn’t healing rapidly or worsening symptoms occur?  Talk openly with your Medical provider or Physical Therapist.  They can provide individualized recommendations for adjusting activity levels to best minimize pain and maximize long-term injury recovery results.  For more information, email us at info@definedPT.com