Gardening is good exercise, and now that the weather is a little more favorable in Springfield, I’m sure many of you will be eager to get outdoors. Back pain is a common issue among avid gardeners, and something I see a lot of as a chiropractor at this time of year, but there are ways to prevent injury.
Stretch and warm up
Gardening is a form of exercise that can lead to pain or injury. Prepare your body by warming up and stretching your muscles beforehand.
Improve back strength and flexibility
While it may not be possible to completely avoid some aches and pains, you can reduce the risk by strengthening your back and improving your flexibility through low impact activities, such as walking and yoga.
Bend and lift safely
Avoid bending over when you need to pull weeds or plant plants in the ground. Instead, kneel while performing these tasks. Also, lift by bending your knees – not at your hips – using both hands to hold the object close to your body as you raise up and straighten your legs, all while keeping your back straight.
Take those extra couple of steps to turn around and pick something up or to move before working on the next plant. In doing so you will avoid twisting, which is often one of the main reasons we experience back pain after gardening.
Tools are useful
Avoid carrying heavy soil, planters, and other gardening equipment by using a wheelbarrow. Gardening tools with long handles mean you can work while standing upright, which reduces the need to bend.
Raised garden beds
If you have the opportunity to do so, consider raising your garden beds. Garden beds that are closer to the height of your hip will allow you to tend to your plants while standing upright.
Take regular breaks
Sit, walk or stretch during breaks to prevent injury from repetitive strain. Do not try to accomplish everything in one day, but instead break up the tasks over a period of time, which will allow for recovery.
Low maintenance landscaping is key
Make life easy for yourself; choose plants that are known to thrive to reduce the need to water and fertilize and use ground covers to limit weed growth.