Taking care of business (outside) doesn’t have to be a pain.

As the weather warms up and the days get longer, the urge to get outside willingly really becomes too much to pass up. While weeding may not be everyone’s favorite activity, and mowing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, itching your green thumb can be a rewarding experience.

Reducing your risk of injury while working outside can ensure you can keep going all season long.

Happy retired female gardening in back yard. Smiling senior woman is crouching by plants. She is in casuals.Give it a stretch.

Remember back in school when your PE teacher used to make you stretch before you started class? Well, when you garden, it’s equally important to give those muscles and joints time to warm up before you dive headlong into raking, shoveling and planting. Also, when done with yardwork, take a few minutes to cool down and stretch, too; this helps avoid muscle cramps.

Make adjustments as you go.

From digging new garden beds to pulling weeds and pushing mowers, strained and pulled muscles can happen in various ways. If you have achy joints, you’ll need to approach yardwork a little differently; this will help avoid worsening your symptoms. For instance, try raised flowerbeds to prevent bending down low to work in them. When gardening, try to use lightweight, ergonomic tools. Always be sure to get assistance when lifting heavy plants and bags of soil.

Be careful when you climb.

Sometimes yard work means breaking out the ladder. From pruning trees and cutting back limbs to cleaning that dreaded muck out of the gutters, getting up on the ladder is never fun, but doing it safely can save you from serious injury. Make sure ladders are on firm, level ground. Additionally, take the time to inspect ladders when they come out of storage. Check rungs, safety locks and extensions before climbing up.

Dress for the job you want (to get done).

Wearing the proper attire when doing yard work is about more than looks but function. Reduce the risk of injury significantly by knowing what to wear.

  • Close-toe shoes. We know sandals and flip-flops are comfy, but they are poor choices for yard work, especially when it comes to mowing or climbing ladders. Always wear closed toes shoes to protect your feet and keep them in place.
  • Long-pants. It can be tempting to wear shorts when it gets warm out, but shorts won’t do anything to protect against ricocheting debris.
  • Gloves. Protecting hands is essential whether using rubber, leather, insulated or even Kevlar-reinforced gloves.

Listen to what your body is saying.

Above all else, if you experience pain or stiffness, take a break. Sometimes all your body needs is a moment of rest. If the pain persists, you’ll want to see one of Riverside’s Orthopedic Specialists. The sooner an injury is assessed, the sooner you can get back outside.

Riverside Orthopedic and Spine Center is located at 100 Riverside Drive at the corner of Burns Rd and Rt 45 in Bourbonnais—call (815) 802-7090 to schedule an appointment.