Prevent Pain When Gardening

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Spring is officially here, which means more time spent working in the yard. While gardening can be a leisurely, therapeutic activity, it can also lead to aches and pains. Hauling wheelbarrows, wrangling hoses, and constantly kneeling over to weed, mulch, and plant puts strain on your lower back, spine, and shoulders. Fortunately, there are techniques and tips to help prevent pain and keep you enjoying your favourite hobby:

  • Lift with your knees when picking up heavy objects such as a wheelbarrow or bags of soil. Avoid lower back strain by lifting with your knees and hips, as they are better equipped than your back when lifting heavy objects. A posture support like the Cybertech Spine Brace encourages proper posture, which also helps prevent back injuries.
  • Invest in quality tools. Old or broken tools with lot of wear and tear can make simple jobs a lot more difficult, so the next time you see that rusty rake, think about investing in a new set of tools that are ergonomically designed and have cushioned grips. In the end, taking tool shortcuts can only cause more damage than good.
  • Weed on your hands and knees to keep your spine elongated for less strain and pain. Pay attention to the placement of your shoulders over your wrists as they bear most of the responsibility when reaching, grasping and supporting your body weight. If you begin to feel unnecessary, uncomfortable tension, slowly ease out of your current position to avoid straining any muscles.
  • Stay hydrated will help you maintain energy throughout your gardening work as well as keep muscles and joints lubricated. Try to drink 6-oz of water every 20 minutes if you are working hard and sweating. Also, try taking a few minutes every half hour to cool off and rest in the shade.
  • Plan a circuit to avoid repetition. Stiffness and soreness can be linked to repeating the same task, over and over again, for long periods of time. Set aside time to alternate between tasks: weed for an hour, plant for an hour, rake for an hour, water for an hour. Breaking up your time spent in the garden into different to-dos will reduce muscle strain as well as help keep down feelings of being overwhelmed.
  • Stretch and ice after you’ve completed your tasks for the day. Gentle stretches will help you avoid strained muscles and stiffness the next morning. If you are feeling a strain in a muscle, apply and ice pack, such as these reusable cold therapy pads, to the sore area before bed. It will help reduce inflammation.

As always, we recommend you talk with your healthcare provider to determine if gardening is safe for any pain conditions you may have.  For more tips on pain prevention and relief, follow us on Facebook and Twitter or visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with one of our trained specialists.