Gardening tips for a healthy body

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 8, 2006

When it comes to gardening, all of that crouching, kneeling and bending can certainly make a body ache.

However, with a few tips from Kerry Smith, home horticulturist and Alabama Master Gardener Program coordinator for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, gardening can be a little less painful and a lot more enjoyable.

The first thing Smith tells all home gardeners to have on hand is a bottle of water.

&uot;The Alabama heat can certainly drain anyone who stays outdoors for a long period of time. With a bottle of water close by not only will you be hydrating yourself, but you will also have a reason to stand up and walk around a little,&uot; Smith said.

Remaining in a position that requires a lot of repetitive motion, such as digging, can put stress on certain parts of the body. By standing up every 20 to 30 minutes to stretch and move around, the body is able to relax.

Smith also stresses the importance of having tools that are the right size for your height and hand size.

&uot;Using a shovel that is too tall or too short for you only makes working with that particular tool harder on you,&uot; said Smith.

When purchasing the tools you will be using in your garden, focus on the height, sturdiness and even the texture of that tool.

Getting a new rack that is made out of wood may end up rubbing blisters on your hand if you aren’t use to using that particular type of tool.

An additional tip that Smith shares with gardeners is to keep tools, such as shovels, sharp, &uot;Don’t expect a shovel to serve it’s purpose if it’s dull.&uot;

A few of the necessities Smith recommends all gardeners have on hand is proper clothing, including, hats, sunglasses and thick, coded, gloves, sunscreen and knee or kneeling pads.

Smith also recommends wearing the right kind of shoes when gardening.

&uot;Wearing flip flops may allow your feet to get a tan, but they aren’t the safest option when working with shovels and rakes.&uot;

Contact your county Extension office for more information and tips on how to make gardening more comfortable.