News and Tribune


May 3, 2013

STAWAR: The garden of weedin’


Of course, there is the other side of the coin. In an article aptly titled “Home Groan”, British writer and self-described ill-tempered gardener Anne Wareham says that despite tending a four-acre garden, she actually hates gardening, which she likens to “outside housework.” She writes, “It is repetitious, repetitive and mind-blowingly boring ... .” 

Wareham goes on to say that while she hates the process, she loves the outcome — gardens. Unfortunately, she has no other way to get one, other than by gardening. 

Also if you Google the terms “gardening” and “backache” together you get approximately 131,000 hits. According to Dr. David Wang, a specialist in rehabilitative medicine in McLean, Va., “When it comes to gardening and back pain, your body may need a few weeks after the long winter to become accustomed again to the physical stresses of gardening, such as squatting, twisting, lifting and digging.” 

Wisconsin Chiropractor James Bykowski says that although gardening may not involve tremendous surges of force or shock situations like many sports, nevertheless, “Many health disorders are the result of awkward posture positions, use of muscles not conditioned for the activity, and overindulgence.” 

Wang, Bykowski, blogger Kathy Blake and other experts offer the following advice: 1. Start slowly and remember to warm up; 2. Lift with your legs, not your back; 3. Always use the proper gardening tools. Long-handled tools can especially be helpful in avoid unnecessary bending; 4. Take frequent breaks and remember to change positions often; 5. Cool down by walking or stretching or maybe soaking in a warm bath; 6. Always wear loose clothes that don’t restrict your movements, including comfortable shoes that offer support; and 7. Always listen to your body and don’t overdo it. 

As for me, I’m afraid I have to accept the fact that yard work just isn’t my forte. The only way I’m likely to have a green thumb is a fungal infection — providing I still have thumbs after using my treacherous chain saw.


— Terry L. Stawar, Ed.D., lives in Georgetown and is the CEO of LifeSpring, the local community mental health center in Jeffersonville. He can be reached at Checkout his Welcome to Planet-Terry blog and podcast at

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