How to Keep Your Garden Safe to Avoid Falls and Fractures
Summer is here and many of you are probably knee deep in your gardening project. This is also a great time to enjoy the sunshine and to play in the dirt absorbing the sunshine, filled with vitamin D for strong bones. Whether your idea of a gorgeous garden is fresh veggies, fruit trees or flowers, it’s a good way to relieve stress, strengthening your bones and you’ll learn new things you can use with next seasons garden harvest.
When you have bone loss you need to be careful with certain movements. One of these moves can be extremely dangerous and cause a spinal or other type of fracture. We need to always do a hip hinge when bending to the ground or retrieving something that’s out of your reach. If you need to lift an object that is heavy with a hip hinge, be sure to bend your knees into a semi-squat, and then bend forward from the hips while keeping your spine in a neutral position, which means your spine is straight and not bent forward or back.
Here’s a list of things you might like to try to make your work in the garden less dangerous to your bones, joints and muscles.
Garden rockers are great for sitting and planting. The rocker rolls forward as you bend in that direction as well as to the side and back, all the while supporting your back, thighs, lower back and hips. Here’s a picture of what it looks like. I have one of these and it has been a life saver in preventing fractures and additional pain from this type of physical work on your low back. Garden rockers shorten your reach to the ground, and in any direction, that you lean while on the rocker.
Long-handled gardening tools are very efficient so you can reach far away things; pick up objects off the ground or from over your head or to cut tall branches. Just be sure the garden tool can handle the weight of whatever it is you want to retrieve, pick up or prune.
Elevated planters are good for those who’ve had fractures or are trying to prevent one, and also those recovering from a spinal injury. I’ve had six fragility fractures of the spine and I couldn’t be without the elevated planters and hanging plants I’ve placed around the yard making it so much easier to tend and plant. These should be approximately waist high and the hanging pots should be hung at a height that is easy to reach. As you know, reaching too far can also cause a fracture, plus you could lose your balance and fall.
Garden trollies are essential for transporting your plants and tools to the garden from your car trunk or a place where you have your gardening supplies stored. This way you can get the things you need to your garden without having to carry anything heavy or over a long distance.
Large, soft-handled garden tools are necessary for those with osteoporosis and the various forms of arthritis. If you are recovering from a fracture or trying to prevent one, or have osteoarthritis, use the assisted devices made for those with physical limitations that will make your work much easier and more enjoyable.
Recruit children and grandchildren to help in the garden. Gardening is a great educational resource for kids who want to learn about how food ends up on our tables and flowers in our vases for summer deliciousness and beauty.
No matter what life throws at you, you can still be active in the pursuits that you enjoy with a little help from your local gardening store.
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_Pam is a patient educator and digital health writer who has worked for Remedy Health Media on their osteoporosis web site since 2008. Pam is also a group leader and moderator with the National Osteoporosis Foundation Inspire online community since 2012, answering questions and guiding members who are newly diagnosed with bone loss. _
Pam wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Osteoporosis.