It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but the first few weeks of spring see a predictable spike in the number of reported back, neck, shoulder, elbow, knee and related injuries. A lot of these happen when we come out of our winter hibernation and get back out into the yard or garden.

Sadly, a lot of these injuries could be prevented. While it’s true that nothing is foolproof, if you keep the following three tips in mind, you’ll dramatically reduce your chances of getting hurt as you prep your garden.

1) Be Mindful – This can be an especially easy thing to forget in the spring because you’ve been cooped up in the house all winter and you’re much more interested in getting your garden in shape than you are in thinking about safety.

Unfortunately, that’s when accidents are most likely to occur. All it takes is one misstep. One instance of trying to pick up something heavy and doing an improper lift or twist, and you’ll find yourself doubled over in agony. Being mindful of what you’re doing and how you’re moving is the No. 1 way of minimizing injury, no matter what the specific situation.

2) Try Not to Aggravate A Prior Injury – A close second to simple carelessness is the fact that if you have a previous injury, you’re just statistically more likely to suffer another one, or make your existing injury worse.

That just comes with the territory sometimes because sometimes we try to do too much when we’re hurt. We tend to overcompensate, which can make things worse. Don’t be that person!

3) Avoid Lack of Winter Exercise – This is another big one. It’s entirely understandable, because during the cold winter months, we tend to go into something close to hibernation. The sudden flurry of activity in the spring after months of relative inactivity can’t help but increase your chance of a mishap or injury.

Fortunately, this one has an easy fix. Just be sure you get plenty of exercise all through the winter months so that the activity in the spring won’t be such a harsh transition.