Gardening season is here! It’s time to take out the rakes and spades to spruce up your backyard.
If you’re like many other gardening enthusiasts, though, you’re likely worried about the backaches that come after a day’s work. Gardening involves plenty of bending, lifting, moving heavy loads, and subjecting your body to awkward positions. It can also mean physical exertion from hoeing, raking, digging and other activities – all the factors that can spell backache.
To avoid hurting your back and keep gardening season enjoyable, our chiropractors offer the following tips:
- Stretch and warm up.
Gardening can be just as physically demanding as a sporting activity, so you have to condition your body for it. Do warm up and stretching exercises before, after and even during a gardening session. Helpful exercises include:
- Taking short, brisk walks
- Doing 3 to 6 back bends
- Doing squats while keeping the weight on your heels, your back straight and your stomach muscles tightened
- Doing forward bending exercises. Stand straight then slowly reach for your toes or as near to them as you can go.
- Doing flexion exercises. Lie on your back then bring your knees to your chest and your head toward your knees.
If you’re suffering from backaches, consult a chiropractor about the right stretching exercises for you.
- Lift objects the right way.
Avoid bending from your waist to lift something up. Instead, bend your legs to get to the object, all the time keeping your back straight. Then grasp the object firmly with both hands. Rise slowly, making sure the load is as close to your body as possible. Get the strength from your legs instead of your back.
Avoid lifting anything that looks too heavy and can’t be tilted easily. Lift weighty loads in batches and use a wheelbarrow or something similar to transport them. If you are suffering from severe back problems, it’s best to have someone else do the lifting for you.
- Kneel when weeding or planting.
Always remember to keep your spine straight to avoid overstretching your ligaments. When weeding or planting, kneel instead of bending, and use knee pads for comfort and protection. If you have to bend to reach a spot, do it from the hips instead of the waist, and keep you back and neck as straight as possible. If needed, support your weight with one hand and use the other hand to work.
If you find it to difficult to kneel or rise, use a kneeler, which has heavy pads to protect your knees, and arm supports to help you lift yourself up. Some kneelers may also be converted into chairs, so you can sit and change positions anytime.
- Work with the right tools.
Tools with long handles, such as long-handled trowels or spades, can minimize the need to bend or overextend your reach. Make sure your tools are sharp so you won’t have to exert more effort in doing certain jobs, like cutting or digging. If possible, use hoses or an automated irrigation system instead of watering cans.
By carefully planning your activities, gardening can be more fun and worry-free. As in any other physical activity, however, some aches and pains may not be completely avoided. See a chiropractor to get the relief and treatment you need the natural way.