Saturday, January 29, 2022

Spring Tips for Safe Gardening

Stephen Walden, president of Bosse Tools, with one of the company's new ergonomic shovels.
Stephen Walden, president of Bosse Tools, with one of the company’s new ergonomic shovels.

Gardening is a dangerous pastime in America. Experts in nurturing native plants don’t always understand how to protect their joints and muscles while they work.
To avoid major injury and enjoy working outside, gardeners will need the right tools and an understanding of safety fundamentals.
At the Master Gardeners meeting Monday, guest speaker M. Franz Schneider explained how force, frequency, posture and compression can take their toll on voracious gardeners. Schneider is an ergonomist and CEO of Humantech.
“There are things we can and cannot do,” Schneider said.
He said that by lessening force and frequency, and removing compression, gardeners can remain healthy and enjoy all their favorite activities for years to come.
Avoiding these injuries isn’t a secret, and Schneider offered a few basic commonsense tips to enjoy the spring and summer without problems.
Use the right tools. A number of new companies now offer ergonomic tools that make gardening easier, and lessen the risks of back and muscle injury. During his presentation, Schneider showed the audience a catalog page with common gardening tools from 300 years ago, tools that look much like the ones we use today. These tools are being replaced by modern inventions, such as the ergonomic shovels by Bosse Tools that were developed from a successful Kickstarter project.
Other smart tool choices include pruning shears with springs, wheelbarrows with big wheels and added pivoting handles, and any other tools that allow gardeners to use bigger upper arm muscles, instead of forearm muscles.
Use smart strategy when working in the yard. The yard can be filled with dangers, such as the overturned rake or a sharp object hiding in the wheelbarrow filled with mulch. Even a gardener’s lack of protective eyewear or proper footwear can cause an unneeded injury. Remember to always put up tools in their proper place once you’re finished with work and defend yourself against injury.
Posture makes a big difference. Gardeners don’t need to kneel or bend over when gardening. Sitting on a stool won’t protect sensitive backs from bending, so they aren’t the best choice. Some modern tools already exist that make gardening from a standing position possible, and they should be a gardener’s first choice.
Speaker Franz Schneider, with the Lafayette County Master Gardeners who are planning this year's state conference, to be held in Oxford. Pictured with Schneider are Sandra Summers, Donna Gottshall, Nina Patrick, Donna Long, Dicki King and Fran Woodard
Speaker Franz Schneider, with the Lafayette County Master Gardeners who are planning this year’s state conference, to be held in Oxford. Pictured with Schneider are Sandra Summers-Schneider, Donna Gottshall, Nina Patrick, Donna Long, Dicki King, Fran Woodard and Colleen McChesney.

In his presentation, Schneider said the dangers people face at home are unexpected: unintentional deaths at home from injury, poisoning and falls equal a number that’s five times larger the number of deaths attributed to motor vehicle accidents.
He said two out of three injuries at home start with a hobby, such as gardening, woodworking or car maintenance.
His wife, Sandra Summer-Schneider, is a Lafayette County Master Gardener. Summer-Schneider joined the Master Gardeners in 2012, and the couple have lived and worked on three continents, and have moved around the United States, spending time in the subtropics, the mountains and in the high desert in Sante Fe, NM. They’ve spent seven years in Oxford, as their stop in the South, and hope to next make their way to Africa.
– Gretchen Stone is HottyToddy.com associate editor. You can contact Gretchen about this story at Gretchen.Stone@HottyToddy.com

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