Tree Talk| 6 min read

10 Ways To Look After Yourself While Planting

It’s no secret that tree planting can be a tough job.

It’s no secret that tree planting can be a tough job. It’s often ranked as one of the 5 toughest jobs in Canada, and in some countries, criminals are forced to do the work. To help you survive the season and keep you planting, we’ve got the top 10 ways to look after yourself while planting.

10) Diet

The average tree planter burns somewhere from 5000-7000 calories per day. That’s two to three times the average person’s recommended caloric intake. This means you are going to need to be eating a lot more than you do in your normal life.

Luckily, the cooks have got you covered, with heaping portions of delicious food for breakfast and dinner. If you’re like most planters and don’t eat much on the block, you need to be extra careful to make sure you’re getting your nutrients in the morning and evening.

People often ask about whether vegan and vegetarian planters bodies can take the toll, and the answer is most definitely yes. Some of the best planters I’ve known have been vegan or vegetarian. However, it does mean that you are going to need to be taking extra care of yourself, making sure you get all the appropriate nutrients, and taking supplements if necessary.

9) Sanitation/Hygiene

A bush camp is far from the most sterile place to spend a summer, and that means that you’ll need to take extra caution in keeping clean and maintaining good hygiene while planting.

Working on the block, you are bound to get a few cuts and scrapes. What’s important is that you look after yourself when you get them and get them cleaned sooner rather than later. It’s far too easy to get an infection by leaving a wound unchecked, even for a day or two.

More serious are contagious viruses and infections which can spread through camp like wildfire. Many planters get into the mindset that – with the limited free time, and inevitable grime the next morning – showering isn’t a daily requirement, and may even go whole shifts between showers. This can lead to highly contagious conditions such as impetigo and staph infections, which are not only uncomfortable, but embarrassing as well.

Take your daily shower and wash your hands regularly around camp. It can be hard to recover from being sick while out here, so the best option is to avoid it in the first place.

8) First Aid Kit

There will most likely be a trained first aid attendant on your crew for any serious accidents on the block, but it’s a good idea to keep a small first aid kit at your cache every day. Fill it with things like band-aids, sterilizing wipes, tweezers, a tensor bandage, and every type of moleskin blister pad you can find. There is nothing worse than having a blister in your planting boosts, knowing that you still have to spend the rest of the day on your feet.

7) Smart Planting

This may seem like something that doesn’t need to be said, but planting smart can greatly reduce your risk of potential injuries. Smart planters look to find ways around obstacles, rather than always barging through, climbing over, or crawling under them.

You spend most of your day walking through a cut block filled with sharpened sticks, precariously piled slash, logs that could roll out from under your feet at any minute, and a dozen other hazards. By simply keeping your eyes open and being aware of these hazards, you can avoid a lot of potential injuries that may result from them.

6) Stretching

Stretching is one of the most important things you can do for your body on a daily basis that can ensure it continues to function properly. There are two kinds of stretching you should be doing during the day to help keep your joints and muscles healthy.

Before beginning planting in the morning, you should warm up your muscles and joints with dynamic stretching. This means stretches that involve continuous motion such as arm circles. Warm muscles and joints are less likely to be injured than cold ones, so this form of stretching is a must before beginning a day of planting.

At the end of the day, static stretching is the key to stretching out already warm muscles and helping maintain flexibility. These are the types of stretches that you hold for 15-30 seconds before releasing.

Following a dedicated stretching or yoga routine throughout the season can make a drastic difference in the way your body feels from day to day.

5) Recharging

Recharging can encompass many different factors, and can mean different things for different people. During the shift it may mean spending some time reading, meditating, or writing by yourself. On day off it might be calling your boyfriend/girlfriend or family back home. Physically, a visit to the swimming pool and hot tub is a great place to start, or maybe dropping in for a yoga class.

Whatever it is, it’s essential that you find some “you” time and relax. It’s easy for tree planting to become an all-consuming occupation, and it’s important to remember who you are outside of the camp.

4) Hydration

One of the most common ailments to befall planters is dehydration. Especially on cool or rainy days it’s only too easy to underestimate how much water your body needs. As a general rule while planting, you should be drinking about one litre per hour – that’s 10 litres a day on the block alone!

Equally important to hydrating on the block is to continue consuming water in the evenings and on day off. Particularly important during the hot days in the summer where the risk of dehydration is greater. Have a water bottle to sip on throughout the evenings and on days off to make sure you’re keeping yourself hydrated enough to plant.

3) Proper Equipment

Having the right equipment for planting can both reduce injuries and increase comfort on the block. Keep in mind however that even good gear may need to be tweaked or fitted to suit your needs.

Planting bags will need to be fitted to you when you first get them, and will probably need to be continually adjusted throughout the season. Your shovel too, will likely be too long when you buy it and need to be cut down to reduce strain on your elbows and shoulders. Planters employ a variety of different shovel handle styles, and will often rotate the shovel handle to keep their wrist in a more ergonomically correct position while planting.

Other gear related choices that can increase comfort are boots, and clothing. For a more comprehensive list of planting related gear, check {{{{{THIS}}}} out.

2) Sleep

Getting enough sleep during the planting season can be difficult, but is essential to feeling your best, and planting to your potential. Planting is not a job you can show up to with 4 hours sleep, slog your way through the day, and collect your paycheque. Not only will you be hating every minute of your day on the block, you won’t plant many trees, and run the risk of seriously injuring yourself on the block.

Mornings are early, and it’s tough to commit to going to bed early enough to get a decent amount of sleep. By the time you’ve finished dinner it will already be 8pm or later, and all you’ll want to do is veg for a bit before hitting the hay. Unfortunately, tough as planting is, you probably need at least 9 hours of sleep per night to recuperate, leaving little free time during the shift. Try and make up for it on day off by sleeping in as long as you can, as even the most devoted planters struggle to make it to bed early enough during the shift.

1) Pre Season Prep

If there’s one thing you can do to ensure your body stays healthy throughout the season, it’s putting in the time training before the season. You don’t have to spend hours at the gym every day, but spend half an hour to an hour per day working out your wrists, knees, elbows and back, especially during the month before the season.

Most injuries happen during the first few shifts of a season, when people’s bodies are still adjusting to the new stresses inflicted upon them. Many first and second year planters will shrug off the recommendations of their foreman that they should put some time into getting into planting shape, only to find themselves missing planting days with tendonitis two weeks in.

It’s nigh on impossible to make it through a planting season without your body getting banged up to some degree. By putting the requisite time in preparing before the season however, you can go a long way to ensuring you do in fact make it throug

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