Ah, the garden! You love getting out there and burying your hands in the dirt. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching your labor turn to fruit (and flowers and shrubs and vegetables).
But gardening can mean pain if you’re not caring for your back while you’re out there.
Caring for your back in the garden this summer 2017 may even help you avoid a visit to my office, so let’s consider some helpful tips.
Closer to the ground.
To avoid bending while planting and weeding, set yourself up with a low sling stool, or a pad on which you can kneel to do the work. Bending over to perform these actions is an invitation to disaster, especially if you’re out in the garden for hours at a time.
Tools with longer handles preclude the need for reaching and stretching, which can put a lot of strain on your back. You get closer to the what you’re doing, without having to hurt yourself.
Lifting heavy objects is a direct threat to your back’s health, so find ways to move things that take this into account. Shell out for a dolly for large plant pots and bags of fertilizer, seed and other heavy objects (concrete gnomes, for example).
If you must lift, do so using your legs. That handsome garden gnome is hardly worth messing up your back over.
Take a break.
I know you love your garden, but take a break every so often. Every 45 minutes to an hour, you should take a few moments to let your body rest. Have a cold lemonade and put your feet up, as you admire you concrete gnome in its new habitat.
Your back will thank you later.
Avoid repetitive movements.
These, in the world of gardening, are the definition of insanity, because they open you up to a world of hurt (like bursitis). If you’re engaged in a gardening activity which demands repetitive movement, take even more regular breaks, or intersperse the activity with a different one.
Don’t be a hero. Overuse injuries can become chronic.
If you genuinely value your time in the garden, isn’t it worth strengthening yourself, so you can enjoy it without worrying about hurting your back?
If you’re unaccustomed to strength training for your back, try something gentle to begin with, like Yoga. Learn how to plank and incorporate this exercise into your daily life, as part of your ‘gardening fitness’ regimen. Planking improves your posture, while strengthening your core, back, shoulders – basically everything.
It’s the gardener’s friend when it comes to caring for your back in the garden this summer 2017.
Back & Body Medical.
Back & Body Medical has brought its award-winning multi-disciplinarian care to New Jersey. Here in the Garden State, we’re willing to bet there are many gardeners who need to read this post.
If you’ve suffered a gardening injury, contact the team at Back & Body. We’ll get you back to digging in the dirt!