Here are safety tips for weeding the garden I encourage my patients to follow — especially those with osteoporosis, osteopenia, low back pain or knee arthritis.
Your weeds did not appear overnight and they do not need to disappear in one day. However tempting, try not to do all of your weeding in one day. Break it up into smaller, more manageable periods and spread the effort (and strain) across multiple sessions – perhaps 30 minutes of weeding at a time.
Besides your weeding tools, I recommend that you have the following items when you weed your garden:
- A foam pad for kneeling and
- A sturdy stick (like a walking stick) to support you when you do the “gardener’s lift” (explained later).
Here are four techniques to remove weeds safely and not compromise your back, your knees or your bones. Keep in mind that keeping your posture in good form is very important. Make a point of not losing all of the good progress you have been making with your osteoporosis exercise program.
- Shortstop Squat/Hold – This position is ideal for weeding when you do not have a very strong root system.
- Power Squat – You will need to do this for more demanding, deeper root system in your garden.
- Gardener’s Lift – Based on the golfer’s lift, this one is appreciated by clients with knee problems.
- Kneeling – Very effective when you plan on spending a longer period in one patch. A foam pad to support your knees or a gardener’s bench is welcomed.
Distribute your workout on both sides of your body so that you do not stress one part of your body.
Once you are done the weeds, make sure you sit back and enjoy your garden!
Weeding the Garden Demonstration Video
The very first thing is to break your weeding up into tangible bits. So you’re going out and doing maybe 20 minutes to half an hour of weeding at a time.
Other than your weeding tools that you might need, have a couple of other tools. One of them is some sort of pad that you can kneel on, and a stick of some sort that’s strong and sturdy that you can use as a support, and we’ll talk about how to use this stick in a moment.
If you are happy with your squats and have happy knees, then by all means you can do squatting and save your back or support your back by bringing your forearm down onto your thigh, so in this sort of short stop position.
You can leverage from this position to do some weeding that’s not so aggressive or that is not too demanding in terms of a pull.
If you are needing to tackle a deeper root system, then you are going to have to get two legs behind the item that you are going to do, and really get in close and use much more of the power pushing up with your legs.
Next, I do want to cover the use of the stick, because if you have light weeds that you go around doing, you might want to do repeated hinging from your hip, and so this is really appreciated, especially by my clients that don’t really like getting down into deep squats repeatedly, some arthritis in the knees. Just maybe not quite as fit as they’d like to be.
This comes from the world of golf, what they call it, the golfers lift, so we’re going to use it as a “gardener’s lift”. You’ll always want to use the stick in the opposite side from the leg that you’re going to be leveraging off of. If I was going to continue the work here on this overgrowth, I would hold the stick, far enough apart that I feel stable, so that when I go up, I can continually just offset the bend and use the weight from the opposite hand.
If you’re doing this and you’re moving along the garden and you’re coming down and working through different areas, I would encourage you to do half of it with the leverage off of the right foot, and then certainly switch part way through, and do half of it with the leverage off of the left foot.
You’re getting a good balance happening through your session of weeding.
Now with this whole clutter that I have to clean up here, this should be something I would most likely get down on my knees for some time to do, and so getting in here and then allowing you to work from your knees or sitting back for those of you who are not comfortable sitting back, getting another pad in behind your butt is really helpful.
Or sitting on a low stool is also another option. And so that allows you to spend time in through this whole area, or your whole area of garden that you have to work
So that pretty well covers whether you’re doing a short stop hold, you’re doing the golfer’s lift, which is now stealing into the gardener’s lift or coming down and working in a better ergonomic position.
Trying to always keep in mind saving your back, balancing the weeding from the right arm and left arm, so that you’re getting an even workout through your body. And remember to break it up even through the day or even better through the week.
Activities of Daily Living
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