22 May 8 Ways to Avoid Back Problems from Gardening
Gardening is a summertime pleasure you may look forward to all year long. Unfortunately, back pain is a common side effect of this hobby. With a few modifications to your usual routine, you can still exercise your green thumb without hurting your back in the process.
You might not think of it this way, but gardening can be a real workout. As with any other physical exercise, it’s helpful to warm up your muscles before you dive in. Enjoy the beautiful Colorado morning with a brisk five-minute walk around the block. Then, once your muscles are warm, stretch your arms, legs, and back to get them ready for a gardening session. If you have chronic back problems, talk to your doctor about devising a gentle stretching routine that’s right for you.
One of the most laborious aspects of gardening is the need to lift and transport heavy pots, bags of soil, watering cans, and trees or bushes you plan to transplant. Carrying these items incorrectly can strain your back and potentially cause serious injury.
Proper lifting technique involves squatting to the level of the item you want to lift. By bending at your knees rather than your waist, you tap into the inherent strength of your legs and prevent back problems. Use both hands to pick up the object directly in front of you. As you rise to a standing position, keep the item close to your body. As you carry it to the desired location, turn by moving your feet rather than twisting your hips.
To minimize lifting while gardening, use wagons, wheelbarrows, dollies, and other tools. Only fill watering cans halfway, and consider alternative irrigation methods, such as garden hoses and automated drip systems.
Use Kneelers, Chairs, and Kneepads
Another strenuous part about gardening is the need to get down to the ground and back up again. This can hurt your knees and aggravate back problems. To make you more comfortable, try out a heavy-duty kneeler with raised, padded handles that help you get up and down with ease. Many versions can be converted into a low chair to prevent needing to sit directly on the ground. Another simple option is to wear kneepads designed for gardening.
Try a Gardening Scooter
Container gardens located on decks and patios present the opportunity to roll around on a scooter. This way, there’s no need to get up and down, stretch, or twist—simply scoot around on a low, wheeled chair. Some large-scale models have baskets to transport gardening supplies with ease.
Use Long-Handled Tools
Once your garden is planted, you must tend to it all summer long. Instead of bending down, you can accomplish many tasks while standing by using long-handled trowels and cultivators. A simple tool upgrade can do wonders for preventing back problems while gardening.
Garden in High Places
Traditional gardening at ground level can strain existing back problems and even cause new ones to develop. To help you enjoy gardening more with less back pain, bring the plants up off the ground.
One option is to plant in raised garden beds. These usually have wooden borders and are filled with soil two to three feet above ground level. You can sit on the edge of the garden bed or pull up a full-size chair to tend to your plants.
Container gardens are another good option. You can set potted plants on garden benches or hang them from balcony railings, fence posts, or tree branches. Window boxes are also easily accessible. Container gardens are ideal for enjoying flowers or growing herb gardens. An added benefit of planting in containers is that no weeding is required.
Another way to raise your garden off the ground is with wall gardening, which is when you mount small, individual planters made of felt or other lightweight, drainable materials to a lattice structure. As the summer progresses, the plants grow together, creating a beautiful living wall of flowers and greenery.
When you’re doing an activity you love out in the beautiful weather, it’s easy to lose track of time. However, to avoid back problems, you should plan to take breaks every 30 to 60 minutes. Also, aim to switch between activities frequently so your back isn’t stuck in an awkward position for a long period. Each time you change tasks while working in the garden, pause to stretch for a few moments.
Scale Back Your Plans
If you were recently diagnosed with back problems, you might discover that you need to scale back your garden this year compared to previous summers. Consider what’s most important to you and what you wouldn’t mind skipping. To fill your yard with low-maintenance greenery, hire a landscaper to plant shrubs and perennial flowers. Then, you can reserve one part of your yard for annual gardening.
Treat Back Problems at Mile High Spine & Pain Center
Despite your best efforts, you may still experience back problems from gardening or other activities this summer. Whether you experience an acute injury or you struggle with chronic pain, Mile High Spine & Pain Center in Broomfield can help. We offer several non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical treatments for back pain, including chiropractic care, spinal decompression, and more. For additional information about what we offer, or to schedule a free consultation, please contact us at (720) 507-0080.