Gardening can be a wonderful way to help pass time, or a true passion for those who love the outdoors and flora. However, with gardening it can put a real strain on your back, and can cause a lot of pain. Keep reading to learn more about gardening and how to prevent any aches and pains while gardening.
Gardening activities, such as digging, planting, weeding, mulching, and raking can cause stress and strain on muscles and joints; and especially if you have been more sedentary during the winter months. The following tips can help you minimize these aches and pains:
1. Get moving before you garden.
Take a 10-minute brisk walk and stretch your spine and limbs to warm up and get the muscles and joints moving.
2. Change positions often to avoid stiffness or cramping.
Be aware of how your body feels as you work. If a part of your body starts to ache, take a break. Stretch that body part in the opposite direction, or switch to a different gardening activity. For example, if you’ve been leaning forward for a while, and your back starts to ache, slowly stand up, and gently lean backward a few times.
3. Use a garden cart or wheelbarrow to move heavy materials or tools.
Lift with your knees, not with you back while moving heavy objects. Maintain a straight spine and bend the knees when bending over to pick something up. Use good posture while moving a cart or wheelbarrow with standing tall.
4. Give your knees a break.
Use knee pads or a gardening pad. If kneeling or leaning down to the ground causes a lot of pain in your back or knees, try using elevated planters for your garden. If kneeling on both knees causes back discomfort, try kneeling on one and keep the other foot on the ground in a kneeling lunge position. Take several breaks throughout and stretching the back or hamstrings may also help reduce knee pain.
5. Maintain good posture.
Use good body mechanics when you pick something up or pull weeds. Bend your knees, tighten your stomach muscles, and keep your back straight as you lift or pull. Avoid twisting your spine or knees when moving things to the side. Instead, move your feet or pivot on your toes to turn your whole body.
6. Keep moving after you garden.
End your gardening session with some gentle backward bending of your low back. Take a short walk, and do light stretching.
If you are not able to manage aches and pains with these tips and your discomfort lingers, a physical therapist can help. Physical therapists are movement experts. They improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation.