How To Prevent Back Pain While Gardening - Functional Advantage
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How To Prevent Back Pain While Gardening

It's that time of the year, with the warm weather starting we have heard a lot of talk about planting and gardening. Gardening and tending to your garden in the spring can cause problems: But how can you prevent back pain when gardening?

It’s a common issue, something many people, especially those aged 50+ can suffer from. Gardening works a lot of muscles and joints, involves a wide range of motions (standing, bending over, crouching, leaning, stretching and lifting).

But just because we are 50+, this doesn’t mean that we should stop doing the things we love – you can stay independent in retirement!

Prevent Back Pain When Gardening By Warming Up

To help prevent back pain when gardening while you improve yard, warm up first. Yes, it may sound surprising – after all you are not running a marathon! – but it’s important to stretch your muscles before you start digging and pruning.

It’s easy to think of gardening as something relaxing, but in one session you will put your body through a full bodywork!

Doing a warm-up will help you prevent back pain when gardening.

You’ll be using many different muscles and joints and it’s important to recognize that you need to prepare your body in the same way you would if you were about to go out for a bike ride or play tennis.

The first thing you should do in the garden, isn’t dig, but some stretching and simple exercises to warm up your back, shoulders, arms and legs.

Stretch your waist and core muscles by reaching your hands above your head. Again, feet hip distance apart, grab your right wrist with your left hand and stretch / bend to the left side, then hold for 20 seconds. On each out-breath, stretch a little more, and on each in-breath release a little. Repeat on the opposite side.

Now stretch your shoulders and upper arms. Stand up and cross your right arm over your chest, grasping it just above the elbow with your left hand. You’ll feel a great stretch and should hold this for 20 seconds, taking deep breaths, before repeating it on the other side.

Prevent Back Pain When Gardening By Being Aware Of How You Bend And Lift

Whatever you are carrying or lifting, or moving from one place to another, it’s important to be aware of how you should lift and carry things while you garden… a high percentage of back pain is directly related to carrying something heavy!

And while bending over to do the groundwork, think about your position.

Your starting position must be crouching, with your legs bent at the knees and your back straight.

Ensure you carry heavier items low down and pressed against your body so that there is less leverage on your back.

While tending to your lawn, don’t crouch or bend over, as it will force your spine into an unnatural position; instead aim to kneel down. You can use a gardening mat to kneel on. Have one knee down on the ground and the other raised up, and switch sides regularly to alleviate any pressure.

Use a wheelbarrow where you can, to carry loads more safely.

If something you are lifting is heavy, then fill it up halfway and do multiple trips rather than risk straining your back.

Specialized Gardening Tools Can Help You Prevent Back Pain When Gardening

You can prevent back pain while gardening by using specialist tools. They are designed to ease the strain on your back and joints.

Wheelbarrows are designed to make loading and unloading garden waste much easier, and enable you to transport  your hanging baskets and plant pots more safely.

Long-handled tools can make weeding, trimming, and picking up garden waste much easier on your back, avoiding the need to stretch or bend over repeatedly.

Many people now use garden kneelers, often designed with special handles to assist you when getting up and down. Some of them even convert into low stools as well which eliminates the need to crouch or bend down.

Take Regular Breaks And Stretch To Prevent Back Pain When Gardening

It’s important to take regular breaks if you want to prevent back pain after gardening. It’s easy to get carried away, time passes by without you realizing, when you are so focused in making your garden the envy of your neighbors that you forget to take a rest. A good idea is to set a timer on your phone to take a break every 30 mins. Enjoy some water and walk around to see the improvements!

And once you’ve finished for the day, take 10 minutes to stretch the muscles in your neck, shoulders, arms, back, and legs. Stretching after any strenuous physical activity is proven to help muscles recover and repair.

Fastest Way To Prevent Back Pain When Gardening

If you are fed up with lower back pain wrecking your weekend plans, then our team are here to help you.

Apply for a free discovery visit (20-minute consultation) with one of our expert physical therapists. 

If you are looking for other ways to resources to prevent back pain...

Our free back pain guide is perfect if you are looking for a few extra tips to help relieve your everyday back pain. 

"9 Facts Nobody Has Told You To Finally Ease Your Back Pain"

Click here to download your free copy. 

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Neil Sauer

Neil Sauer

Physical Therapist, Certified Health Coach and company owner Neil Sauer graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science. During that time he played four years of collegiate soccer. Neil earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Central Michigan University in 2006. He has taken continuing education courses for Stanley Paris manual therapy techniques and a Gary Gray Functional Training course. He has also taken selective functional movement assessment courses with the North American Sports Medical Institute (NASMI). Neil’s treatment philosophy goes beyond reducing pain and restoring motion/mobility. He has a passion for health and wellness and for improving the quality of life of his clients, and works holistically with them to ensure their injuries do not reoccur and that his clients enjoy optimal functionality. He strives to help his patients live more active, mobile and healthy lives knowing that they don’t have to rely on pain medications, injections or surgery. In his personal life, he is married and has two sons. During spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, fishing, spending time outdoors and leading an active and healthy life. Neil also likes to read as much as possible when he finds/makes time. He primarily reads books on leadership, business and special forces. An avid exercise enthusiast, he continually works to improve his own health and wellness.
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