I am ready to get in my yard and start planting my Spring flowers and garden. My back is always killing me after I do this. How can I work in the garden without straining my back? Can you help?
Eagerly Awaiting Sunshine,
I am so happy to hear you are ready to get in your garden! I love to garden, it’s a stress reliever for me! Don’t forget the old wives’ tale that if it thunders in February it will freeze in March or April so don’t let this warm weather fool you, there will be a cold front again before spring has sprung!
It is super important to watch your posture when gardening as we see quite a few patients here at Elite with neck, shoulder, and back pain due to injuries. There are a lot of things you can do to prevent injury and pain when working in the yard.
When tending or mending the garden or your yard make sure to kneel and not squat. Use a pad for your knees if they are tender to kneel on. Squatting can irritate the knees, hips and low back if done for a prolonged amount of time. Make sure that you don’t reach to far forward or with rotation as this will irritate the back as well! Scoot instead of over- reaching either direction.
When bending and lifting heavier objects such as mulch or potting soil make sure you tighten your core muscles and bend from the knees and hips. Keep the object as close to your body as you can get as this helps with center of gravity and reduces stress on your low back.
With shoveling or using your hoe for weeds use similar techniques, over-reaching and swinging with a twisting motion can cause muscle strain of the low back and can sometimes irritate the shoulders and neck. Make sure you stay hydrated and take breaks often. It is easy to become focused on getting all the weeds, but frequent rest breaks is key! Don’t forget to use a wheelbarrow or wagon to help with heavy tasks!
You can also do some back exercises or stretching to prevent your back from “locking up” when you are done in the garden! Check out this quick VIDEO demonstration on how to prevent injury in the garden! Hope these tips help and you have a great Spring!
If these few things do not help or you are already in pain, come see us at Elite Physical Therapy and let us give you an individualized assessment!
Your “Family” Physical Therapist,
Abby LeBlanc, DPT
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