Gardening Injuries – Treatment & Prevention

Gardening is one of the most popular summer pastimes, especially in climates with long and harsh winters. Many individuals view this activity not only as a source of pleasure but also one of of therapy as well as exercise. However, the fact is that many individuals come down with gardening injuries at one time or another during the season.

It may come as a surprise to some that gardening tasks can be a cause of injuries. However, the fact is this is precisely a result of our perception of it as a harmless activity. That means that many individuals neglect to warm up properly or take other common sense precautions before commencing a stint of gardening.

In this page, we will list some of the most common injuries related to gardening and the usual treatments for these injuries. We will also suggest how one can take steps to reduce the risk of experiencing a gardening related injury.

Common Gardening Injuries

Gardening injuries differ significantly from those of other physical activities. Cuts and bruises represent a large proportion of the injuries one is likely to suffer. In addition, most (but not all) of the remaining types of injuries are overuse or repetitive stress ones.

Man doing gardening in a kneeling position

Cuts & Bruises

Many people choose to work in the garden without proper protective equipment that covers exposed skin. However, there are many bacteria and fungi present in the soil. They play a vital role in nature and in many cases are vital for the survival of plants. However, they can in some cases represent a threat to humans. And the threat is magnified when we choose to expose our naked skin to the soil. As a result, one should wear gloves when working in the garden as well as sturdy shoes, long trousers and a long sleeved shirt.

Tetanus Infection

Probably the most serious threat linked to cuts, scrapes and abrasions is that of a tetanus infection. Tetanus bacteria (called clostridium tetani) live in the soil, on garden tools and even on thorns. It can enter the body through an open wound and cause weakness and muscle paralysis. The most notorious symptom is paralysis of the jaw muscles, which can cause difficulty when chewing or swallowing. In extreme cases, tetanus can lead to death. The common common way to protect against it is innoculation.

Sepsis Infection

This is another type of infection caused by bacteria that are chiefly present in animal manure. It can enter the body through cuts and bruises and then eventually enter the bloodstream. The resulting condition can be very serious and can cause organ failure and even death.

Suggested Products for Treatment of Cuts & Scrapes

Curity Fabric Bandages

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Dermacea Gauze Sponges

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Telfa Adhesive Island Dressing

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Accidents with Power Equipment

Mowing the lawn may seem like a perfectly harmless activity. However, accidents with machinery such as lawnmowers, hedge trimmers and the like can be another cause of serious gardening injuries. They can lead to maiming or even limb amputation. The best way to avoid these injuries is to ensure the equipment is properly serviced and follow the manufacturers’ instructions carefully.

Gardening Related Overuse Injuries

Gardening frequently requires us to main a crouched or otherwise awkward position for an extended period. This type of activity can cause low back pain. Other problems such as tennis elbow can result from the need to perform repetitive hand and wrist movements while trimming plants or hedges, for example.

Another problem that can result from extended kneeling is knee bursitis. Try to avoid spending too much time on your knees or elbows in order to minimize the risk of bursitis.

We will now discuss gardening related overuse injuries, and some products that may be useful in their treatment, over the next few sections.

The Right Back Brace Can Help Reduce Low Back Pain Due To Gardening

Gardeners will frequently spend significant periods of time in a stooped or kneeling position, and this may lead to lower back pain. If afflicted with this condition, wearing a back brace for gardening activity will help to rest the damaged tissues in your back and promote a faster recovery. The back brace will provide support for your lower back muscles, ligaments and tendons and protect them from stress as you continue your daily activities.

Ideally, you will want to be able to continue wearing your back brace for gardening activities as well as the rest of your day. The more hours of each day you spend wearing the brace, the greater the rest given to your back and the faster will be your recovery. Even if you do not suffer from lower back pain, you should consider wearing an appropriate back brace for gardening as a preventive measure.

Choosing A Back Brace

When choosing a gardening back brace, you should bear the following in mind:

  • Try to choose a brace that is low profile and light. Such a brace will not interfere with your day to day functions and will be easy to wear. The Bio Skin Back Skin is a good example of this.
  •  Look for a brace that is hypoallergenic as well as latex and neoprene free. This will remove the need to be concerned about medical reactions as a result of long term contact with the brace. 
  • Some braces possess technologies for adhering securely to the skin. These braces will be more effective in the long term as you can then precisely target the area of your back that requires support.

For other considerations, when choosing your back brace for gardening, please read this post about choosing a brace for lower back pain.

Suggested Back Braces

Back Skin with Lumbar Pad

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Adjustable Back Brace with Lumbar Pad

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Back Brace, White

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Flexible Lumbar Support

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How An Elbow Brace Can Reduce Pain Due To Gardening

Gardeners’ Elbow refers to the swelling, tenderness and pain to the tendons of the elbow, also referred to as epicondylitis, or more popularly as tennis or golfer’s elbow. It commonly afflicts avid gardeners, and in fact is probably more common among gardeners than tennis players or golfers. However, just as with other cases of tennis or golfers’ elbow, the pain of this condition can be relieved by wearing elbow braces for gardening. The elbow brace helps to reduce the pain of the injury by reducing vibrations that travel along the tendon and up to your elbow. With fewer vibrations reaching the elbow, the injured tissues will have an opportunity to rest. Rest, as with all repetitive stress injuries, is the key to healing the condition.

Elbow injuries in gardening result mainly from gripping tools like shears for prolonged periods. The condition is also particularly likely to show up when gardeners use these tools to perform work requiring high levels of precision and small movements of the tool. Another gardening related activity that can exacerbate tennis elbow would be the use of shears or other tools with excessively small handles. The tennis or golfers’ elbow that results from any of these conditions can be controlled by using elbow braces for gardening.

Other Risky Activities

Other activities that can give rise to gardeners’ elbow include carrying larger objects like bags of soil or fertilizer. Digging or pulling movements, such as hand weeding or digging holes with a shovel can also give rise to tennis or golfers’ elbow and the need to wear a gardening elbow brace.

Benefits Of All Day Use

Just as with other activities, the benefits of an elbow support for gardening are more pronounced if the gardener wears it not just for gardening but for all his or her daily activities. Hence, the most effective gardening elbow brace is one that you can wear for both gardening and non gardening related activities. You can read more about the various types of tennis elbow brace here. You can also obtain further information about gardeners’ elbow here.

Suggested Elbow Braces

Hg80 Premium Tennis Elbow Support

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Tennis Elbow Skin

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Hyperblend Elbow Sleeve w/Strap

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Elastic Elbow Support

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Standard Elbow Skin

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Using Kinesiology Tape To Treat Gardening Related Overuse Injuries

Gardeners perform many repetitive tasks over prolonged periods, and do so frequently while in uncomfortable positions like kneeling, squatting or bending. For example, they may spend several minutes or even hours squatting to weed or prune a bed of flowers. They may have to hold a pair or shears overhead for a similar period in order to trim a hedge. These activities can give rise to overuse injuries of the back, elbow, wrist or even shoulder. Once this happens, wearing k tape will help by mitigating the pain and discomfort of these overuse injuries.

Kinesiology tape helps by lifting the skin over the injured area and  promoting the flow of fresh blood and oxygen into the damaged tissues, ligaments, etc. It works in concert with the natural movements of the body and actually relies on you continuing to use your limbs and muscles in a natural fashion. This is in contrast with the use of traditional types of athletic tape, which relies on regulating the movement of joints in order to give injured tissues an opportunity to rest and recover.Hence, wearing kinesiology tape while gardening will actually promote recovery instead of retarding it. You can get more information on how kinesiology tape works here.

Other Advantages Of Kinesiology Tape

Using kinesiology tape for gardening also offers the following advantages:

  • The tape is 100% hypoallergenic, so no need to be concerned about allergies or other negative medical reactions;
  • You can wear the tape for periods of as long as 4 or 5 days at a time. You can wear it even while showering or bathing. This is more convenient than using traditional adhesive tape, which requires replacement more frequently.
  • If you choose to do warm up exercises before embarking on a stint of gardening, you can do so while wearing your kinesiology tape. You can combine any warm up, cooling down or rehabilitation exercises with wearing kinesiology tape for gardening and they will not conflict with each other.

Suggested Kinesiology Tapes

Tex Classic

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Kinesiology Tape – 5m Continuous Roll

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Kinesiology Tape – 30m Continuous Roll

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Kinesiology Tape – I-Strip Roll

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Pre-Cut Application

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Kinesiology RestoreTape

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Use Knee Braces To Help Treat Gardening Injuries

Gardeners frequently have to spend extended periods in kneeling, stooped or otherwise uncomfortable positions in order to do their work.  For example, kneeling for extended periods places significant pressure on the prepatellar bursa (sacs of fluid) situated in front of the knee cap. The friction and pressure of  kneeling causes these sacs to become inflamed and swollen. This condition is commonly known as patellar bursitis. The pain and discomfort of the condition requires rest. Wearing knee sleeve braces for gardening can help to support your knee and give the inflamed and injured structures a chance to rest and recover.

If you are a frequent gardener, you may find it useful to also wear a knee sleeve brace for gardening as well as for your other daily activities. Continual use of knee sleeves will provide your knee with more rest and therefore greater pain relief. If you decide to get knee sleeves for gardening, you should therefore try to choose a pair that is as light and low profile as possible. You will find this type of knee brace easier to wear on a continual basis and it will fit more easily under your clothing.

Best Knee Braces For Gardening

Some knee sleeve braces are made of materials that are hypoallergenic and also neoprene and latex free. If you need to wear your gardening knee sleeves continually, a pair made from these materials will provide greater long term wearing comfort. This is especially the case if you have suffered from latex or similar allergies in the past. A breathable knee support like the McDavid Knee Sleeve is a good choice.

Other Treatments Besides Knee Braces For Gardening

In addition to using a knee sleeve for gardening to treat your patellar bursitis, you can also consider:

  • Using an ice pack such as the Dunbar Medical Single Use Instant Cold Ice Pack after each stint of gardening;
  • Warming up before and cooling down after each stint of gardening;
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight to reduce pressure on the knees while kneeling;
  • Using knee pads to reduce pressure on your kneecaps while kneeling.

These measures in conjunction with the use of a knee brace for gardening will help you control your knee pain and keep you in your favourite hobby for years to come.

Knee Supports To Consider

How A Shoulder Support Can Help Ease Shoulder Pain Due To Gardening

From time to time, gardeners may need to perform tasks that require reaching overhead. Trimming trees or tall hedges are examples of these tasks. Unfortunately, these activities can sometimes result in shoulder injuries, and specifically in shoulder impingements. This is another of the overuse or repetitive stress injuries that can result from gardening activity. And, as with most overuse injuries, the primary remedy is rest for the injured tissues and allowing them a chance to recover. Wearing a shoulder support for gardening related injuries is the natural route to take in this situation.

Neglecting a mild case of shoulder impingement can lead to more serious problems including rotator cuff tears or shoulder bursitis. Consequently, using a gardening shoulder support as soon as you feel a problem coming on can pay disproportionate benefits.

Besides the traditional shoulder support, the most beneficial support for your gardening related shoulder injury will likely be an arm sling. It will relieve the shoulder of the weight of the arm and provide an opportunity for the shoulder to recover. As you would expect, the benefits of this support increase with the amount of time you can spend wearing it. Hence, for best results, try to choose a gardening shoulder support that provides the best fit possible. These supports will be the easiest to wear for prolonged periods without discomfort. The LP Arm Sling is sized for different body types and may be the solution you are looking for.

Other Remedies

In addition to using a shoulder support for gardening injuries, you should pay attention to warming up properly before embarking on gardening tasks. You should also take care to follow a proper cool down routine once you are finished. Following these tips together with using a gardening shoulder support to heal an existing injury  should bring you back to full health and help to keep you there.

Suggested Shoulder Supports

Shoulder Support

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How A Wrist Brace Can Be Useful When Treating Gardening Related Wrist Pain

Gardeners frequently have to perform tasks that involve gripping or pulling, sometimes for an extended period.  For example, they may need to grip and pull small weeds out of the ground. Alternatively, they may need to grip a pair of shears to prune a tree, dead head flowers or trim a hedge. These gripping actions can give rise to a number of overuse conditions, including de Quervains and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. As with most overuse injuries, the key to recovery lies in allowing the injured structures to rest. A wrist or thumb brace for gardening will help you do this by taking pressure off your injured tendons and ligaments. 

Wrist or thumb braces for gardening can continue to do their jobs even while you are gardening. By doing so, they will reduce the pain you  may be experiencing while gardening and help you enjoy this pastime for longer before you have to stop. Wearing your brace even while you are not gardening will also help to promote healing. This is because the more time you spend wearing it, the greater the rest periods your wrist or thumb will have and the faster they will recover.

Choosing a Brace

  • In choosing your brace, make sure that you select the correct size. Most braces (of all sorts) come with a size chart and directions for measuring your wrist circumference and using the results to determine the correct size;
  • If you are “in between” sizes, consider choosing the larger size. This will result in a more comfortable brace without losing too much of the support you would have from choosing the smaller size;
  • Consider choosing a wrist brace made of breathable material. These will allow your wrist or hand to remain dry and comfortable while wearing the brace.
  • A wrist or thumb brace for gardening made of hypoallergenic and/or latex and neoprene free materials eliminates the risk of medical allergies. This improves long term wearing comfort. The BioSkin DP2 wrist brace is a good example of such a brace.

Suggested Wrist Supports

Prevention of Gardening Injuries

To reduce the risk of suffering a gardening injury, we suggest taking the following precautions:

  • Try to stay properly hydrated at all times;
  • Warm up and stretch thoroughly before starting gardening activity;
  • Try to maintain a high overall level of fitness;
  • Wear gloves, goggles and other protective clothing while gardening;
  • Try not to hold the same body position for too long and avoid unnatural or cramped positions when possible;

We have set out above a few products that may be useful as you recover from low back pain, tennis elbow or another repetitive stress injury. The products shown below are the highest rated selections that are designed to treat these injuries. If you do not see the product in which you are interested, please contact us by phone or email.

Conclusion

On this page, we have presented products to help you enjoy your favourite summer pastime with less risk of injury. You may have questions about how the products presented above can help you manage or treat gardening related injuries. If so, please contact us and we will do our best to assist.