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Avoid Back Pain While Gardening This Spring

If you are an active gardener then you are probably planning several activities now that spring has sprung and the sun’s warmth is calling. You may have a long “to do” list in your gardening journal scheduled for this spring season. You may be surprised to hear that gardening has been identified as a major cause of back pain. Here are some simple precautions to help you protect yourself from back pain problems.

Take Time to Warm Up First

Warming up is the most important pre-activity requirement. When someone starts playing sports or beginning workouts, it is sensible always to warm up before. The same is also true with gardening. A quick walk and little gentle stretching of your back, legs, arms and hands before you start working in your garden can help you avoid pain and injury. Do not start hunkering down to your flower beds without a warm up.

Change Your Positions Frequently

It is important to understand that holding one position for a long time can cause soreness or injury. While working close to the ground, as you do while weeding, you should sit, kneel, half-kneel, and get on all fours frequently. Frequently changing your working positions gives your body small breaks and helps prevent overuse injuries and provide support to your back.

Opt For Rotational Task Management with Breaks

You should not stick to one activity for a long period of time. It is better if you keep rotating through your day’s tasks. You can work on weeding for ten minutes and then switch to raking for another ten minutes, then go for clipping and then come back to weeding. This kind of rotational task management is beneficial because it prevents you from working in the same position for too long, and avoids overworking a single muscle group.

If you have only one activity to complete then it would be best to take sufficient stretch breaks and change positions after every ten to fifteen minutes.

Apply Correct Body Mechanics

When working, you should avoid bending your back. Use proper form when lifting objects:

  • Keep your back straight
  • Keep your abdominal muscles tightened
  • Bend only at your hips and knees

You should never try to lift a load you are not comfortable with. Divide the whole load into several parts instead, or ask someone for help if dividing it is not possible.

Use Ergonomic Gardening Tools

While digging it is best to use a small spade. Use your feet to provide leverage and power, and do not try to make unnecessary twists with your back while digging.

Use of ergonomically designed tools is strongly recommended. Lightweight tools help ease the load on your back. Appropriately sized tools facilitate good posture, allowing you to work standing up instead of bending over. Proper working posture can help avoid back pain or injury.

A good physical therapist will help you learn correct body mechanics and teach you exercises specifically designed to help strengthen and support your back. If you have any questions on body mechanics while gardening or any aches or pains you are experiencing, please contact your local ACCESS PT office – we’d love to help.