SOURCE: American Society of Hand Therapists

May 09, 2005 12:27 ET

ASHT Issues Tips to Prevent Gardening Injuries This Season

CHICAGO, IL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 9, 2005 -- Gardening, a relaxing and enjoyable activity for many, can turn painful without proper precaution as repetitive stress injuries, tendonitis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can stem from this pastime. The American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) is providing warm-up exercises and injury prevention tips to help all levels of gardeners avoid serious and long-term injuries.

"Raking, weeding, digging, pruning and other repetitive movements associated with gardening put stress on the hand and wrist. Many gardeners spend hours performing these activities with improper form, which can lead to a variety of problems in the hands and entire upper extremity," said ASHT President Donna Breger Stanton, MA, OTR/L, CHT, FAOTA. "Warming up before gardening is just as important as warming up before a vigorous workout."

ASHT recommends following these upper extremity warm-up exercises prior to gardening:

--  Fold your hands together and turn your palms away from your body as
    you extend your arms forward. You should feel a stretch all the way from
    your shoulders to your fingers. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
    
--  Extend an arm in front of you, making sure the elbow is completely
    straight. With your palm down, take the opposite hand and bend in the wrist
    downward. Then turn the palm up, and stretch the wrist backwards.
    This stretches the forearm and wrist muscles. Hold for 10 seconds and
    repeat eight times.
    
ASHT released professionally designed guidelines to prevent injury and foster healthy gardening practices:
--  Take a break every hour or switch to another activity. Overuse of
    repetitive motions, such as digging, can cause tendonitis of the elbow or
    lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Break up large tasks into short sessions,
    with a rest and stretch break between gardening sessions.
    
--  Use wide handled tools. Use tools with padded or thicker handles to
    protect the smaller joints in your hands. Working with your wrist in a more
    neutral or straight position will help to prevent injuries in the wrist and
    forearm.
    
--  Avoid sustained/constant gripping and awkward motions. Use both
    hands for heavy activities like lifting a bag of potting soil and alternate
    hands on more repetitive tasks like scooping dirt out of the bag into a
    pot. Sustained grip and repetitive motions can cause pain and lead to
    tendonitis.
    
For a complete list of tips and stretches with pictures, visit http://www.asht.org/gardening_tips.html

The American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) is a non-profit organization with the goal to advance the specialty of hand therapy through communication, education, research and the establishment of clinical standards. ASHT's nearly 3,000 members in the United States, Canada and around the world strive to be recognized leaders in the hand therapy profession. For more information about hand therapy or to find a hand therapist in your area, visit www.asht.org.

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