Column: Weed out foot pain when gardening


Commentary by Dr. David Sullivan

April is not only National Foot Health Awareness Month, but it is also National Garden Month. While gardening can give your property curb appeal, it’s also great exercise. Activities like mowing your lawn, pulling weeds and planting flowers work your whole body and can lower your risk for diabetes or heart disease. But it can also put lots of pressure on your feet and ankles. So, for that reason, I’m sharing four foot tips for gardening safely.

Tips to prevent gardening injuries

Pick the right shoes: Gardening shoes need to offer plenty of support, since yard work puts pressure on your feet and toes. That’s especially true when you squat down to plant or fertilize flowers, since your bones could get compressed and inflamed without supportive footwear. Wear closed-toed shoes in your yard, especially if you plan to mow your lawn.

Socks matter, too: Working in the hot sun makes you sweat. Choose sweat-wicking socks to keep your feet dry and reduce your risk for fungal infections. Avoid high, tight-fitting socks that can reduce your blood flow and lead to foot or ankle swelling.

Protect your toenails: Squatting while you garden can shove your toenails up against the edge of your shoes. And repeat pressure or injury raises your risk for ingrown toenails. To prevent this problem, trim your nails straight across. And leave a little visible white nail when you trim.

Garden like an athlete: Stretch your feet, legs and ankles before and after gardening. Make sure to take breaks while you’re in the garden and avoid daily yard work if your body is tired. Finally, drink plenty of water to reduce swelling and prevent cramps.

Through it all, just remember that even walking around and watering your plants puts extra pressure on your feet. So, before you head out to your garden, check to see if you’ve followed the four tips to prevent gardening injuries.