Hand Safety for Spring Gardening Season
Spring is finally here, and that probably means you are going to get outside and do some much needed work in the garden. Gardening may be good for the flowers, but can be hard on your body. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while getting down and dirty this spring:
1) WEAR GLOVES- you are likely to get little cuts and scratches without them, which is a great place to get a nasty infection from fungus and bacteria in the dirt. Nice thick gloves will protect your skin. Also keeping your arms covered will be better protection from poison ivy, snakes, insects and spiders, and even rodents living in your yard. Watch out for the baby copperheads, they can be particularly poisonous!
2) USE TOOLS- Digging in unknown or new areas without a tool could result in lacerations and puncture wounds that may result in the need for sutures or even more serious repair. Also, remember to safely store these sharp objects to avoid accidents to you and your family.
3) WORK SMART, NOT HARD- When shopping for gardening tools, look for wider, softer handles which is easier on your smaller joints. Work with your wrist in a neutral position to avoid stress to your hand and forearm, and make sure to take frequent stretch breaks every hour to break up all the stress to your back and arms. Use a small bench to sit and work instead of sitting back on your knees which not only is hard on knees, but causes your to push up with your hands and wrists with greater force. Repetitive motion can lead to tendonitis of the wrist and elbows. Use two hands to lift a bag of soil, or use both hands when using clippers. Try to alternate which hand you use while digging or spraying to avoid that repetitive stress. And lastly, plan ahead and place your supplies and tools into a basket or wheelbarrow, which will more evenly distribute the stress to your joints.
To read more hand tips, visit the American Society for Hand Therapists at www.asht.org
Danielle Williams, OTD, OTR/L, CHT