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Ways to Prevent Lower Back Pain After Gardening

The weather’s getting nicer here in upstate New York and people are starting to go outside to work on their lawns and gardens. But, along with a tidy lawn, many people also get lower back pain after gardening. If you’re headed out to clean up the yard or spruce up the flowerbeds here are some tips to help you prevent days of suffering afterward.

Ways to prevent lower back pain after gardening in Saratoga and Glens Falls, NY

Ways to Prevent Lower Back Pain After Gardening

Stretch Before Gardening

Gardening may not seem like a workout at the gym but that doesn’t mean your body couldn’t use a little warmup. Warming up the muscles in your body, can help you avoid an injury later. A brisk walk and a few exercises can make a world of difference in how your back feels after gardening.

Take Regular Breaks

If you look at the anatomy of the spine you’ll notice that there are natural curvatures to the spine. As you bend and move your body in different positions for long periods of time you run the risk of injuring or straining the muscles and ligaments around your spine. Taking a short 5-10 minute break every half hour or so can ease the strain on these muscles and the resulting back pain you’ll feel later on1.

Use Proper Lifting Techniques

No doubt you’ve heard people talk about proper lifting techniques. This graphic from WebMD shows what we mean by “proper lifting techniques”:

Saratoga Spine - Lower Back Pain after Gardening

Source: WebMD, Proper Lifting Technique

By placing your feet shoulder-width apart and keeping your back straight while lifting with your thighs and knees you’re less prone to damaging the delicate discs between your spinal vertebrae.

Keep proper lifting techniques in mind when lifting lawn bags or heavy bags of mulch.

Gardening Tools for Back Problems

Another way to prevent back pain after gardening is through the use of tools such as:

  • Garden Seats – There are many gardening seats available on the market these days from chairs to stools to rolling seats. Gardening seats can help you garden without the need to kneel, squat or stoop over.
  • Extended Length Tools – Instead of a short shovel or trowel, try tools with extended handles that allow you to work while standing.
  • Ergonomic Tools – Standard tools like rakes have gotten an upgrade in recent years with more ergonomic handles. Again, these handles are designed to allow you to rake without bending over and keeping your spine in an awkward position.

Raise your Garden

Instead of bending over to reach a garden on the ground, use containers for your favorite plants or build raised garden beds2. This reduces your need to bend over, reducing the strain on the muscles and ligaments around your spine.

In Summary

So, after a long New York winter, it’s time to get outdoors and enjoy the warmer weather and sunshine. With these tips, and some extra care, you can also enjoy a flourishing garden while avoiding much of the back pain that goes with it.

References:

  1. Omron Healthcare
  2. HGTV
  3. WebMD
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery