Gardening Tips for Back Pain Prevention
Spring is here, and warmer weather is (hopefully) soon on its’ way! After a cold, snowstorm-filled winter, we’re all looking forward to some much needed time outdoors in the sunshine. What better way to enjoy the warmer weather than to spend time in a garden?
Are you an avid gardener? Working outside is a great way to get some much needed Vitamin D and exercise. But with any physical activity there are important things you should keep in mind.
Prevention is the best medicine. Patients often complain about not knowing what created their problem. It’s not always what we did, but what we didn’t do over time that results in pain.
To help ensure a healthy and pain free gardening season, especially in the early spring, here are some simple gardening tips:
Wear sunscreen and appropriate clothing– Prevent exhaustion and sunburn wearing light, loose fitting clothing (long sleeves are best), a large brimmed hat, and sunscreen! Reapply as needed when y0u spend long days outdoors.
Walk and warm up before you start gardening– Maybe take 10 or 15 minutes to stroll around your yard to survey what needs to be done. While doing so, take long strides to loosen up your pelvis along with making circles with your arms outstretched.
Stretch before and after gardening activities starting with your larger muscle groups then gradually progressing to the smaller ones. Start with your legs (gluteals, hamstrings, quadriceps), then your back (extension, and lateral bends), arms and shoulders, wrists. Be careful not to bounce, jerk or strain. Hold for 15 seconds and stretch both sides three times each.
Posture, posture, posture– Posture is a window to your spine. Pause from your activity and realign your posture every 15 minutes, or as soon as you feel discomfort.
Use the right moves– Alternate tasks, switch hands, use scissors stance when raking, kneel to plant and weed, do not bend at the waist, bend at the knees, change positions every 15 minutes, pace yourself.
Use the right tools– Lighten your load with the proper equipment, use a garden hose instead of watering can, carry loads close to body, use ergonomically designed long-handled tools to give you leverage and prevent stooping and twisting. Your tools should fit your body; your body should not have to fit to the tools!
Stay hydrated– Drink lots of water to keep muscles loose and prevent cramping.
Pay attention to any numbness, tingling, weakness, poor posture or pain. Any of these may indicate it’s time for a spinal check up. It may just be muscle pain but it may also be a warning sign of an underlying issue. Don’t wait and hope that it will go away, get it checked.
Keep these tips in mind to prevent pain or injury this gardening season. You’ll be able to spend more time outside and both your garden and your body will benefit!
If you experience any pain or discomfort, consider visiting our office for a check up. Contact us to schedule your visit by calling (905) 878-2333 or email us at [email protected].