3 Quick Reminders to Prevent Injuries and Stings When Gardening

The potential for injury or getting stung while gardening will always be there, but by following these simple tips, you can lessen the risk of getting hurt or stung while enjoying the fulfilling hobby of gardening.

Do pre and post gardening stretches.

A woman doing stretching exercise before working at the garden.

A woman doing stretching exercise before working at the garden.Gardening is an enjoyable form of exercise and a morning spent in the garden provides us with a better workout than a typical 30-minute walk. However, all the digging, bending, lifting, pushing, pulling, walking and squatting that gets the heart rate up and helps keep us in shape can also leave us with sore, strained muscles. A proper warm up, therefore, is essential to prevent and muscle soreness injury when gardening.

Use these quick tips for garden stretches to prevent muscle strain and injury. It only takes about 5 minutes to go through the warm-up routine before and after each gardening workout.

Upper Body Stretch

Stand in a doorway and lift arms over head and reach upwards, then lower arms to sides and repeat three times. Breathe in as you raise arms, exhale as you lower them.

Next, grasp the side of the door frame with elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Take a small step forward then slowly lean forward until you feel your arm and chest muscles stretching. Hold five seconds, lean back and repeat two more times.

Side Stretch

Step out of the door frame and stand up straight with feet shoulder width apart. Extend the right arm over head and leave left arm at your side. Lean slightly towards your left side while reaching up with your right hand until you feel your right side stretching. Don’t bounce and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on other side, stretching each side twice.

Back Warm Up

Stand up straight and raise both arms over head and clasp hands. Lean slightly backwards until you feel a stretch in your abdomen. Hold five seconds then bend over and touch your toes (or get as close as you can) and hold five seconds. Repeat twice.

Hamstring Stretch

As you head out the door and down the steps, stop at the bottom level to stretch your hamstrings. Stand facing the steps, a feet and a half away from the lowest step. Place right foot on the lowest step. Bend right knee and slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in the back of your right thigh (hamstring). Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then repeat with other leg, stretching each hamstring twice.

Walking Inspection

The final warm-up exercise before getting into the heavy garden work is to take a brisk walk around your garden and landscape for a quick inspection of plants. This will give you a visual of what tools you will need for the morning chores and get your heart rate climbing up to the beneficial aerobic level.

You can also check out specific back and shoulder stretches by the Mother Earth Living for instant relief and Yoga stretches for gardeners by Better Homes and Gardens.

Observe precautionary measures.

Women gardeners tending their squash plant in a raised garden bed,

Use Some Wheels

Gather all the tools you’ll be needing for the morning and place them in a wheelbarrow or pull cart.

This will help protect your back from being injured. We try to carry items that are too heavy or too bulky at a time and place our back at risk for injury.

Save your back and use something with wheels to do the heavy lifting and carrying. Having everything in one place also makes the work go more efficiently. Save wear and tear on your back and prevent back injuries by using hand-trucks to lift heavy rocks, bags of fertilizer, and other heavy objects.

Stay Cool

Avoid becoming overheated and risk heat exhaustion or heat stroke by gardening in the early morning or late evening hours. Wear light-colored cotton clothing and a hat while working. This type of fabric will wick moist away from your body and help you stay as cool as possible. Always carry a bottle of water with you when gardening and drink a little every 15 minutes to avoid dehydration.

Avoid Stings

Bees love our flower and vegetables gardens as much as we do, and that’s a good thing when you consider that bees are our best pollinators. The downside to having bees in your garden is the potential for getting stung by one of these winged pollinators. Bee stings not only hurt, but many people have allergic reactions to them. Don’t give up gardening for fear of getting stung by bees, wasps, yellow jackets or the like, there are several things you can do to avoid getting stung while gardening.

Did you know there are more than 20,000 species of bees worldwide? That’s more than all the mammals, amphibians, and reptiles combined! You may be familiar with bumblebees and honeybees, but Illinois boasts 500 species of native bees—metallic green and blue bees that look nothing like the fuzzy yellow and black icon.

 Source: chicagobotanic.org

Beware of bees and other stingers around.

A bee biting a finger.

No Bright Colors

Don’t wear bright colored clothing while gardening, especially bold floral patterned clothing. For obvious reasons, these clothing colors and patterns attract bees. Wear clothing in neutral earth tones like tans, greens, and grays.

Most gardening gloves for women are made with bright colored floral patterned fabric while the gardening gloves look nice, they attract bees.

Opt for a more masculine type of glove for gardening. It won’t be as attractive to bees and will help you avoid getting stung on the hand when you reach out to pick a garden vegetable or flowers.

Skip Smell-Good Products

Avoid wearing perfume or aftershave when gardening, which will attract bees to you. Any floral smell from perfume, soap or lotion will make you a target for the little stingers buzzing around your garden, like bees and mosquitoes. Don’t use hairspray either.

If You See a Bee…

If you notice bees around your flowers, move away slowly when performing gardening tasks. Rapid movements seem to agitate bees and make them more likely to sting. Should a bee land on your hand or arm while you are gardening, be still and do nothing. The bee will in all probability fly off on its own without stinging. Initial reaction to a bee landing us is to flail our hands or smack at the bee, this reaction will agitate the bee and cause it to sting you.

Always Wear Shoes

Always wear shoes when gardening to avoid getting stung. Bees and yellow jackets nest in the ground. The soft, mulched soil of a garden is a prime location for yellow jackets nests and bees prefer a grassy place near your garden for their nests. When gardening, be on the lookout for a ground area that has a lot of bees or yellow jacket activity which will indicate an underground nest.

Also, wearing shoes is a good idea when gardening, stepping on a rock or hitting a toe with a shovel does not feel good. A sturdy rubber clog makes an easy-clean garden shoe that will last for years.

Share the Garden

Bees and other winged stinging creatures will always be attracted to the fragrant blooms of vegetables and flowers and the yellow jackets will cover and devour any rotting vegetable or fruit. Toss old plants or flowers on the compost pile away from the garden so winged stingers won’t be as apt to congregate in your garden space.

Learn more tips by following the top 20 gardening blogs in 2015.