Tips on Preventing Injuries While Gardening

This year’s Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum’s volunteer kickoff featured a talk by Dr. Heidi Tinter, PT, DPT, CSCS, of Paramus and Wayne Orthopedic Physical Therapy, on “How to Garden Without Injuring Yourself.” Dr. Tinter has a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Columbia University and is also a gardening enthusiast. She shared the following tips with our volunteers.

  • Use a kneepad to cushion your knees
  • Raise one leg to a perpendicular position to reduce stress on your back
  • When working on the ground, move rather than reaching when you need to plant, get a tool, or pull a weed
  • Get up frequently to walk and stretch
  • When raking, step rather than reaching to work on a different patch
  • When trimming shrubs, work at shoulder height or below rather than reaching up
  • Squat when picking up a heavy object and keep it as close to your body as possible; try to bring it up to a step stool or something close to the ground before lifting it the whole way
  • Exercise before gardening to warm up your muscles; march in place, stretch, and take deep breaths to warm up your whole system
  • When working alone, always carry a cell phone
  • Stay hydrated
  • Get a tetanus shot once every 10 years

Heidi Tinter
Dr. Heidi Tinter of Paramus and Wayne Orthopedic Physical Therapy demonstrates a good position for gardening.

Dr. Tinter also suggested some steps to take after using a clippers or other tool repeatedly: extend your arm out straight and push down your hand; then push your hand back up. It also helps to apply ice or put your hand in cold water after repetitive work with your hands.

Volunteers are welcome to work at Laurelwood any Tuesday or Friday from April through October. Individuals can drop in anytime and do not need to sign up in advance. They should bring water, small hand tools and gardening gloves if they have them. Groups are asked to call 973-831-5675 to make arrangements in advance.

For information about volunteering and to be directed to the area that best fits your needs, interests and talents, please send an email to or call 973-831-5675.

Wayne Orthopedic Physical Therapy offers solutions for the most difficult orthopedic problems combined with a “small clinic” approach. In addition to being a “green” company, it has also developed its very own Nature Sanctuary on the grounds, complete with native-plant landscaping to support the local ecosystem.

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