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Ergonomic Horticulture: A new beginning for better health!

Ergonomic Horticulture: A new beginning for better health!


Ergonomic Gardening

Gardening teaches us to listen to our body. The subtle strains and injuries that develop while doing work in the garden teaches us to use our body weight when pushing, pulling, digging, and lifting, while also using correct posture when maneuvering between plants. In this article, I will go over the unique skills and tools that allow us to garden with ergonomics.

Ergonomic gardening is a "mindful" approach utilizing gravity, specially designed tools that match the anatomy and physiology of the human body. Gardening with less stress may start with choosing the proper time to garden such as early morning or late afternoon when the temperature is not so high.

There is less focal points of resistance exerted by your body the more efficient your work is. A tip to improve the efficiency is maintaining the sharpness of the blade by using a traditional wet stone. Using gloves and padded, tough jeans to withstand the rigorous work involved in gardening will also keep you out of the weather. A hat and pair of sunglasses also shields us from the sun's harmful UV rays. Drinking plenty of water insures fluid efficient movements. Visit a doctor periodically to insure your ability to use tools. I routinely do yoga, and Pilate's to improve my muscle dynamics, elasticity, and increase my health. I took a class with local gardener, and arborist, Dr. Airhart who taught a class I attended entitled, Horticulture Therapy. Horticulture as a therapeutic method to relieve stress, reduces stress on gardening, and improves the health of the participants. In the course on horticulture as therapy, we researched using ergonomic tools that fit your body, lightweight, with curves for better angles, and uniquely designed. It is important always to research, and try the tool before you buy it. Train with an ergonomic educated and gardening experienced farmer will bring you many tips for improving the enjoyment of your personal gardening experience. Everyone should read books, journals, magazines to learn better, how to keep your body fit, and safe while farming or gardening.

Reduce work, and minimize aches, and pains by choosing the correct tool for the job you're tackling. First, after you have tried out and bought the tool for the job, you must figure out how to implement it properly. Holding the tool properly will affect the grip strength that is reliant on the position of the wrist. You will achieve maximum grip strength when your wrist is in a relaxed or 'neutral' position. Achieve this position by holding your hand at the same angle as your forearm. Any deviation from this position can result in losing your gripping strength.

This bending of your wrist or utilizing a tool that requires awkward angles during work is otherwise known as ulnar deviation, or (bent) wrist posture. The ulnar deviation (bent) wrist posture is the worst. When your wrist is bent, the tendons in your hand that flex your fingers become irritated by the extra exertion made when your wrist is in this position. The pressure exerted from the action of gardening is compounded and made worse by the awkward angles of the garden tool, when using it to do work. This results in injuries from sore muscles and joints in your hands, and is made worse over prolong periods. So keep your wrist as straight as possible when using hand tools in the garden. Wraps and wrist braces are available to help gardeners keep their wrists in the proper position. Ergonomics is a key word that will help you find the tool you're looking for, for the specific job you require. An ergonomic garden tool has certain features designed to keep the user's body in neutral positions. This will cause less physical stress and allow the gardener to work longer. Not all ergonomic tools are equal. When choosing a garden tool, you should examine the tools and specific features.

Grip of the tool is very important. This is where all the force is exerted during the gardening task. The handle of a tool should have a texture. It should have a non-slip surface to add resistance and minimize the gripping strength needed to hold the tool. The grip should be soft and pliable. A good ergonomic tool will have an enlarged grip that requires less squeezing to hold the tool. The harder you have to squeeze a tool, the quicker your hands will tire. The handle should incorporate curves to fit the natural contour of the hand. Look for tools with a depression or notch on the top of the handle. This feature serves as a resting place for your thumb when holding the tool. When your thumb is in this position, your wrist will be in a more neutral position as you garden. This allows for greater gripping strength and less stress exerted while gardening.

Handle length is an important feature to ergonomics. Long handles provide more leverage and distributes the workload to larger muscle groups in the body. Longer handled tools also allow to work from a sitting or standing position, reducing bends in the back, knees, neck, and shoulders.

Gloves increase grip, minimize stresses to the hand, and reduce stress to the skin with extra padding for protection. Use baseball tape around the handles to create a larger, non-slip grip. Bicycle grips can be fitted on some tools. Foam water pipe insulation also helps create a cushion grip. Remember to stay hydrated with plenty of water. Eat, at least, some of the vegetables you have grown, as they are a healthy addition to your diet. Wearing protective clothes, and sunscreen also can help save you energy, and health during hot, sunny, and cold, and windy days. Ergonomics, compared with farming, is a new idea to utilize for a rewarding, and pain free operation in your greenhouse or flowerbeds.

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