Tips for Saving Your Back During Gardening Season - Newsletter

Tips for Saving Your Back During Gardening Season

Warm weather can be a perfect time for you to head outdoors and work on your favorite garden. Getting outdoors to prune your favorite plants, lay down some new mulch, and pot your favorite plants for the new season can be a great activity, but it can also cause back pain and other related injuries if you’re not mindful. Take a look at some of the many tips you can do to save your back during gardening season and to help you avoid other related gardening injuries.

Health Benefits of Gardening

There are plenty of fantastic health benefits to getting outdoors and gardening during the warmer months of the year. Gardening can be hard work and it can be comparable to a good exercise routine with all of the activities you’ll be doing. Stepping outdoors during the warmer months of the year can help you breathe in some quality fresh air and improve your mood. Gardening can be a great activity to help you relieve stress and help you focus your efforts on a productive activity. One study found that gardening can help to improve physical, psychological, and social health. Not only can gardening be a great way to help you relieve stress and improve your mood, but it can also help you get active and get the blood pumping with all of the compound movements you’ll do while tuning up your garden area.

9 Tips to Protect Your Back During Gardening Season

Develop a Realistic Game Plan

One of the best things you can do to save your back and reduce the risk of an injury is to develop a realistic game plan before you get started. Avoid trying to take on a massive gardening project on a whim. Instead, a few days and weeks before gardening season comes around, start thinking about what projects you’d like to tackle, and determine whether or not you can reasonably accomplish them. When gardening, just like any other major project, you want to make sure that you start small and build up your efforts over time. Make a game plan on what you hope to accomplish and see if you can do it yourself or if you’ll need some support. If you need some support, don’t hesitate to ask friends and family members, even your neighbors. Gardening is one of the most enjoyable activities for many people, so asking your neighbors if they can help out and spare a few minutes can be a great way to meet new faces, create meaningful memories, work on a fun project together, and save your back during the gardening season so you can avoid a gardening injury. Plan to segment activities and limit the amount of time dedicated to your gardening project at one to avoid overdoing things. Consider how active you have been over the winter and don’t exceed those time limits to give your body a chance to adjust to changes in activity levels. This may mean completing gardening activities for a shorter amount of time broken up over a few days instead of one long day.

Stretch and Warmup

As with any workout, you should practice good and safe habits, which include making sure that you spend some time stretching and warming up before getting into the deep roots of your gardening project. Stretching and warming up can help your body adequately prepare and ease into the strenuous activity that can come from gardening and help you avoid those common gardening injuries. Make sure to stretch and warm up your hands, wrists, shoulders, arms, legs, and back. An effective warmup and stretching routine will help you prepare your body for all that you ask of it while gardening.

Think of Gardening as a Workout

It’s always important to remember that while gardening might seem like a mundane activity at first, it’s really a workout. Gardening is hard work. You’ll be moving equipment, pots, flowers, and whatever else you’re doing to spruce up your garden from one spot to another. You’ll be actively digging, lifting objects, moving, and setting objects down at a given time. Pushing, pulling, and engaging all sorts of muscles during a gardening session. During your gardening period, you’ll be performing many compound movements that are similar to activities you could do in a strenuous workout.

Be Mindful and Protect Your Back and Spine

As you’re gardening, you want to be mindful of your back and spine. There are several things you can do to potentially reduce the risk of an injury which can include using proper lifting techniques when bending, lifting, or moving heavy objects. Avoid staying in one position too long, whether that’s standing straight up, bending over, or leaning. Strive to wear comfortable shoes that will also provide an adequate amount of support. Utilizing a garden stool that allows you to sit on an elevated seat or flip to kneel on can take the stress off of your back caused by prolonged bending positions while pulling weeds or planting. Whether you choose to sit or stand while doing these activities, stop frequently and extend your back in the opposite direction to give it a break from that flexed position. You’ll be walking to and from, lifting, and moving items, and you want to make sure that your shoes will provide ample support for all you’re planning on doing during this gardening season. Instead of staying in one position for an extended period of time, consider using a stool, table, and workbench to help you avoid putting your back and spine in a compromising position while you work.

Lift with Your Legs and Core

Protect your back by using proper technique when bending and lifting objects. Lifting with your core and legs so you can avoid straining your back. As you work to move items around your favorite garden, you want to avoid simple mistakes that could lead to gardening injuries from poor technique. Try to lift with your legs and core to protect your back.

Tools Are Your Friends !

Don’t forget to use tools and gardening equipment to help you. In addition, make sure to wear proper clothing and footwear to provide adequate support. Choose a sturdy flat sneaker or a work boot to help you maintain balance while working in your garden. Avoid trying to do everything by hand or placing your body in a compromising position which may lead to an injury. Instead, take advantage of tools that are designed to help get the job done easier, faster, and reduce the risk of an injury. Some of the best gardening tools you should consider for your gardening project include wheelbarrows, wagons, rakes, trowels, spades, hoes, and shovels. If you’re tackling a gardening project for the first time, watch some helpful videos to see what tools they used and don’t hesitate to use them to help you improve your ability to save your back and speed up the project this gardening season.

Use a Workbench and Raise Your Workstation

Another way to protect your back and help you avoid back injuries during the gardening season is to use a workbench and raise your workstation. Doing so can help you avoid leaning over or bending for an extended period of time. If you choose to use a workbench or raise your workstation, make sure that you use proper ergonomics and the table is at a proper level to avoid you raising your arm too high or cause you to strain your neck when looking down or up.

Take Frequent Breaks and Stay Well Hydrated

Another important step to take to avoid gardening injuries and save your back during gardening season is to take frequent breaks and stay well hydrated. Don’t forget to wear your sunscreen to protect your skin, even on cloudy days. You’ll be burning no shortage of calories and sweating while working in your garden, so you need to take frequent breaks and stay well-hydrated to keep fueling your body for all that you’re asking it to do.

Listen To Your Body

Another important step you can take to save your body and back during this gardening season is to listen to your body. Our bodies do an excellent job of letting us know when we’re approaching the limit where we need to stop or slow down, so be on the lookout for warning signs. If something doesn’t feel right or you begin to feel fatigued, take a break and finish the gardening work on a different day. It’s important to remember that gardening season lasts several months, your projects don’t need to start and finish in one day. Take your time, listen to your body, and give it time to heal and recover when it starts letting you know that you’re pushing it too far too fast.

Treat Back Pain and Other Gardening Injuries with Physical Therapy

Our licensed and trained physical therapists are movement experts who are passionate about helping you get back to doing your favorite activities pain-free, including those gardening enthusiasts! Physical therapy can be an effective treatment option for individuals who experience back pain and other similar injuries that could cause you pain while gardening. Your physical therapist will work with you to identify the underlying cause and then implement a comprehensive and tailored treatment program that matches your unique needs and goals. Schedule an appointment today at a nearby physical therapy clinic to see how physical therapy can help you get back to doing your favorite activities pain-free!

 

  1. Soga, Masashi, et al. “Gardening Is Beneficial for Health: A Meta-Analysis.” Preventive Medicine Reports, Elsevier, 14 Nov. 2016, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335516301401.
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