An article at eDiets.com (Warm Up for Gardeners’ Workout) warns of the dangers of garden work. It reports gardening among the “10 occupations with the highest rates of carpal tunnel syndrome”. All that digging, scooping, hoeing, raking, pruning, bending, kneeling, pulling, pushing, lifting and hauling can wear on a person, particularly someone who’s already experiencing RSI symptoms.
The article recommends warm-up exercises, taking breaks, and using ergonmoically-correct tools. Sound familiar? Those are basically the same tips for avoiding repetitive strain injuries for computer users.
Personally, I’m not a big gardener or lawn fanatic, but I confirm that even light yard work can worsen RSI symptoms. Using a rake or hoe are the activities where I’ve most noticed the familiar aches, but even something as seemingly-innocuous as mowing the lawn can cause problems. The vibration of the mower’s handle, and the strain of holding the blade-engagement lever can tweak my RSI. Taking frequent breaks helps – a good time to do this is when emptying the grass bag – as does using a mower with a padded handle.
It’s not all bad, of course. Getting a little fresh air and sunshine is always a good thing, as is the aerobic exercise of pushing (or at least walking behind) a mower. As in most things, moderation is the key.