Now that winter is over, it’s time to get back out in the garden to prepare for another growing season. There is a lot of heavy work to be done at this time though, from a general tidy up after a few months of neglect to digging the borders or vegetable patch.
After a winter away from our gardening tasks, this is the time we subject ourselves to sudden bursts of strenuous activity and really put our backs at risk. It’s not a good idea to have serious bouts of digging or sweeping after long periods of inactivity or sedentary living, without first preparing our bodies for the tasks ahead.
These periods of heavy activity often entail poor posture with repetitive lifting, carrying, and twisting can easily lead to acute lower back pain, as a result of our backs not being used to or prepared for this sudden activity.
If we don’t prepare, then we are risking lower back pain and that déjà vu moment from last year of “My back is really hurting – I think I’ve overdone it in the garden”! We are now regretting those levels of enthusiasm and seeking back pain relief. Isn’t hindsight great?
Tips to prevent gardening back pain
Do some simple stretching exercises to limber up before getting busy or take a short walk simply to loosen up those joints ready for the task ahead.
Don’t try to do it all in one session, the key to avoiding back pain is to take regular breaks from digging or raking, and maybe vary your tasks to reduce the duration of repetitive movement. For example follow 30 minutes of digging with say some pruning.
Make sure you dig in front of you, level and parallel with your hips, use your foot to push the shovel into the soil, and lean into it from above so you are pushing down rather than out in front of you. Try to bend from the knees when lifting the soil, rather than your back. Make sure you take plenty of breaks to avoid back pain.
Try to maintain a straight back and pull your rake towards your body than to one side to reduce twisting forces on your back.
Bending down to apply brush on treatments is guaranteed to cause low back pain. Invest in a proper decking roller (much quicker), or use a kneeling pad and try to brush in front of you rather than to one side.
Again use a kneeling pad and avoid bending down if you want avoid back pain. Dont continually do this, stand up, take a break, and do some back stretches.
If you are potting then try to do this on a work top or surface at a comfortable height and be aware that wet compost is heavy so try to ensure that you don’t have to move full pots or containers very far.
Again you may cause back pain if you are moving heavy weights such as a full pot or container over a distance. Be sure to use a wheel barrow.
Make sure you take on plenty of water, especially if it’s warm
The golden rule: If you want to avoid gardening back pain….then Don’t Overdo It!
Source: www.femalefirst.co.uk; April 30, 2013.