If you suffer from back pain and enjoy gardening, it’s important to be aware of the risks that come with the activity. Gardening requires a lot of forward bending and hunching, which can put a lot of stress on your spine and make you more susceptible to injury.
Here are four essential tips to prevent back injuries while gardening:
Gardening in a lot of cases can be a workout and like with any exercise, warming up properly beforehand is a necessary element of injury prevention. It’s better to be proactive than reactive so don’t skip your warm-up! We’d recommend a few minutes of light cardio, just to get your heart rate up, after your body’s warm and the blood is flowing you can get into some stretches. As well as stretches for loosening the back we’d also recommend stretching the legs as well. This is due to the fact that loosening the muscles, tendons and joints in the legs will better allow you to enter stances and positions that are not going to put as much strain on your back.
Pay Attention to How You Bend and Lift
Lifting heavy objects is often an unavoidable part of gardening and if done wrong it can be a dangerous one. Keep these lifting tips in mind and your risk of back injury will be drastically lowered. Plan a route to make sure you are not holding the heavy object for any more time than you already have to. Bend your knees before you bend your back and keep it as straight as possible before, during and after the lift. Lastly, carry these heavy items closer to your body, this will lessen the strain on your back by reducing the leverage on your spine. As we previously said preventative action is better than reactive action so where possible use a wheelbarrow, or ask the help of a friend or family member to help move the heavy object.
Take Regular Breaks
Gardening can be very labour-intensive, so it’s important to take regular breaks to rest and allow your muscles to recover before you carry on. Muscles that are well-rested tend to injure less frequently as you are better able to maintain a good lifting form when you are not feeling tired and fatigued. Try to relax, take a break every 20-30 minutes to stand up, stretch, and walk around or even take a seat for a bit.
Don’t Overdo It
As much as it may be tempting to try and get lots of gardening done in one day, try not to. As we said before being tired and fatigued can increase your risk of getting injured. It’s better to take some time off today than have to take months off at a time due to injury. Spread out your gardening tasks over several days, and take breaks as needed. Make sure to listen to your body and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort.