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Darrell Blackwelder column: Don’t overdo it when working in the yard

I mowed my lawn earlier this week and I paid for it the next morning. I couldn’t hardly walk I was so sore. Rainy weather and the pandemic have made many somewhat out of shape for gardening.

Overexertion and soreness take much of the pleasure out of spring gardening. Below are a few tips that may make gardening efforts less painful.

• Take time to stretch before strenuous work. Stretch and warm up before entering when battling weeds and planting.

• Be sure to take frequent breaks. During hot and humid weather, it’s important to take breaks.

• Use labor-saving devices. Ergonomically correct tools are great for those with a touch of arthritis. Knee pads work wonders for the knee caps reducing strain from tasks that require constant bending.

• Maintain tools for maximum ease. Gardening tools should be sharp and in good shape.

• Protect your skin. Wear a hat when working outdoors. Broad-brimmed hats reduce chance of melanoma (skin cancer) to the face and neck the ears and neck. Sunscreens are beneficial in reducing harmful rays of the sun. Use sunscreen and lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Use sunscreen even on hazy or overcast days.

• Consult your doctor. Sore muscles and aches may be quelled with over-the-counter pain relievers, but you may want to make sure if the pain is persistent. Physical exertion coupled with extreme temperatures could spell trouble. Talk to your physician to make sure you’re OK for gardening exercise

• Have a realistic plan. Do not try to achieve impossible goals. Save the herculean tasks for times when you have ample help or are in good shape.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu .

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