Tips for Avoiding Back Pain While Gardening

We’ve all experienced that shooting back pain while gardening, so here are some easy tips to avoid it and stay safe while enjoying the green outdoors!

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Once spring rolls around, most of us with a green thumb can’t wait to jump into the garden and get our hands dirty! If you’re like me, I love to garden and try out all different landscaping ideas to increase my home’s curb appeal. Pulling out weeds, digging up old plants, cutting the grass and trimming shrubs is definitely not an easy task. Believe it or not, the Ontario Chiropractic Association actually warns that gardening is the most common source of back and neck pain during the warmer months. So how do we avoid these aching pains without having to give up gardening? We’ll teach you exactly how:

1. Warm up Your Body

Get your body moving well before you even grab the rake or shovel. Get your limbs moving and warm up your body by doing some light walking, jogging on the spot, jumping jacks and some back stretches. Warming up is a key factor to preventing injuring while gardening, so make sure you do not skip this step!

how to avoid gardening back painPhoto: Telegraph

2. Mobility Back Stretch

To do a mobility back stretch, stand in a seated position and reach above your head with both arms and lace your fingers together. Then, bend your upper body to each side, holding for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat this stretch 2 or 3 times to really get your limbs stretched and ready for gardening.

3. Simple Back Stretch

After finishing up a few sets of the mobility back stretch, continue on to a simple back stretch. All you need to do is from a seated position, bend down from the hips, and keep your head down as you go. Reach for the ground and hold each set for 15 seconds.

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Now once you’ve warmed up your body, learn how to reduce strain on your muscles and joints and also reduce the risk of back injury. Keep these tips in mind while you’re on the move outdoors:

Alternate: To reduce as much strain on your back, make sure to alternate between heavy and light movements. Make sure to alternate between your hands as well and mix up your gardening duties. Do not do repetitive movements for too long.

Easy Does it: Whether your lifting bags of soil or even heavy pots to decorate your outdoor space, there’s no shortage of lifting when it comes to gardening. Knowing  proper lifting technique goes a long way in reducing the risk of back injury. Here’s how you can lift heavy objects with ease:

1. Approach the load: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and lift your head up. Ensure your feet and body point in the direction of the load.

2. Lift: Bend your knees and use your arm and leg muscles to smoothly and slowly lift the load. Keep your back straight throughout.

3. Move: When moving, keep the load close to your body. When turning, make sure to not twist your body and pivot your feet instead.

4. Lower the load: To lower your heavy object, bend your knees slowly and set it down on the ground. 

Kneel when Necessary: While planting in the garden and pulling out weeds, you’re going to do a lot of kneeling. Invest in kneepads or a kneeling mat to ease strain on your joints. Make sure to not hunch over while kneeling and keep your back straight to avoid injury.

Rake Right: While raking, ease the strain on your back by putting one leg in front and the other behind. Switch legs as you go.

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Now that you know the basics of gardening safely, it’s time to get out there and garden away! If you’ve injured your back in the past, make sure to visit a chiropractor before you go doing any heavy lifting or intense gardening. You may also want to think about choosing between chiropractic care or physical therapy depending on what the pain is from. They’re a fantastic source of information on keeping your muscles, joints, and central nervous system healthy. Having a back in tip-top shape and keeping it that way is an important and vital role to taking care of your health and well-being. Now good luck with gardening!

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