For many, gardening offers a relaxing reprieve from the stresses of life. While losing yourself in nature can be cathartic and having a garden a healthy activity with its own rewards, the physical demands can be more demanding than you realize, leading to sore muscles or worse, injuries.

Whether you’re planting a window box, hoeing a row of tomatoes in your garden, weeding your yard, or embellishing your landscape with colorful perennials, it’s easy to over-exert muscles that you may not have used in a while.

Here are some of my gardening tips to help reduce the aches, pains, sore muscles, and even injuries associated with common gardening chores.

Gardening Tip #1

Digging, pruning, and weeding can cause elbow pain.

Here are a few tips to prevent and reduce elbow pain while gardening:

· Before and after gardening, stretch your elbow by bending your hand and wrist toward the inside of your forearm while holding your elbow completely straight. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 3 times.

· Consider using ergonomic gardening tools. This may lessen the stress on your forearm and elbow.

· After gardening, apply ice to the painful area for 15 minutes.

Gardening Tip #2

Repetitive and prolonged forward bending along with lifting while gardening can cause back pain.

Here are a few tips to prevent and reduce back pain while gardening:

· While lifting and digging, bend from your knees and not your back.

· When kneeling and squatting, try to keep your back straight and avoid over reaching or twisting.

· Break up long periods of bending by getting up and stretching every 20 minutes. Place your hands on your hips and relax for just a minute.

Gardening Tip #3

Bending, squatting, and kneeling while gardening can often cause knee pain.

Here are a few tips to reduce knee pain while gardening:

· Don’t spend more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time kneeling or squatting. Get up, stand, and take pressure off your knees.

· Stretch the muscles around your knees including your thigh and calf both before and after gardening.

· After gardening, apply ice for 15 minutes if your knees are sore or swollen.

Gardening Tip #4

Repetitive, especially overhead pruning when gardening can lead to shoulder pain.

Here are a few tips to prevent and reduce shoulder pain while gardening:

· Take frequent breaks, especially from overhead activity and repetitive motions.

· Keep your work area as close as possible, avoid reaching or twisting.

· Use lightweight and ergonomically correct equipment that is right for the job.