Gardening is all about getting your hands dirty to allow something beautiful to grow. Tending to a garden gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine doing exercise. The mix of physical activity and immersion in nature makes gardening a great activity for stress relief. Since it’s a low-impact form of exercise, it’s also an ideal hobby for many older adults, people with disabilities, or chronic pain sufferers who may struggle with more rigorous activities. Gardening has handfuls of health benefits but all the standing, leaning, kneeling, and reaching that goes into gardening puts your back in danger of injury. Follow these eight tips for a summer of gardening that’s free of back aches and pain.
- Wear supportive footwear. Everything in the body is connected, so protecting your feet will ultimately protect your back.
- Stretch it out. Full body stretch for 5-10 minutes before you start gardening. Simple, slow stretches that mimic the motions you’ll be doing when gardening will warm up the muscles and lubricate your joints.
- Lift and bend correctly. Take advantage of the stronger muscles in your legs and spare your back muscles by bending your knees, keeping your back straight, and leaning from the hips when you’re lifting something like a heavy pot or bag of soil.
- Use a wheelbarrow. Prevent straining your back when moving heavy things around the yard by using a wheelbarrow.
- Slow and steady. Your perfect garden won’t be built in a single weekend. Break up your gardening goals into manageable increments.
- Get support from kneelers and chairs. Getting up and down from the ground can be painful depending on your level of flexibility. Using a low chair or a kneeler while doing work on the ground can make getting up and down easier.
- Break it up. No matter what, it’s never a good idea to hold one position for too long, especially when bending down. Take frequent breaks to give your back muscles a chance to relax and readjust.
- Choose the right tools. Invest in lightweight, long-handled tools to decrease the likelihood of straining your back. Your back is at its most vulnerable when you’re bending and reaching, so light tools with long handles will cut back on the amount of reaching you need to do.
If you feel persistent pain in your neck or back, it may be time to see a specialist. Call us today at (303)-327-5511 to make an appointment with one of our physicians or physical therapists.