We all know that activity in the fresh air can make us feel healthy and happy.
Gardening offers both physical and mental benefits. But – frequent bending, twisting, lifting pulling and pushing may lead to back pain. This is especially true if you are less active over the winter months or spend most of your time sitting as this can lead to poor posture and a weak back.
Here are our top ten tips to avoid back pain whilst enjoying your garden:
- Do some simple stretching exercises to warm you muscles before making a start, or take a short walk to warm up and loosen your joints.
- At first, aim to spend no more than an hour or two in the garden, gradually building up this time.
- Take small breaks every 10-20 minutes, stopping at least hourly to have a good stretch.
- Focus on time and not task. There is no reason to get a whole job done in one go.
- Vary your tasks regularly to reduce the amount of time you spend using the same set of muscles – e.g. follow digging with some pruning, weeding or mowing.
- Use a small spade for digging and make sure your posture is correct. Dig in front of you using your foot to push the shovel into the soil. Lean into the spade from above so you’re pushing down rather than out in front of you.
- When raking, keep your back straight and pull the rake towards your body rather than to the side.
- Always try to swap your hands when using tools – this way you don’t overuse one side of the body. It may feel strange when using your non-dominant side!
- Use a kneeling pad or cushion and don’t over reach. You can reduce weeding by choosing plants that offer ground cover, or cover the soil with bark or mushroom compost.
- Never use your back muscles to lift. That should be left to the stronger muscles in your thighs and buttocks. Make sure your feet are at least hip width apart. Bend your knees, hinge yourself at your hips and keep your back straight, from the base of your neck to the end of your back. Use a mirror to correct your technique.
Remember – be smart about what you do…
Everyone should use a sensibly loaded wheelbarrow or cart to move things around the garden, (such as tools, plants etc.). If you already have back pain, consider stand up gardens.
The golden rule of safe gardening applies to all activities: If something hurts, it’s nature’s way of telling you to stop. Remember that it’s best to ask for help rather than move heavy pots or materials on your own.
Do you have niggling pains that limit your gardening? Our team can help to alleviate aches and pains… and ensure that you enjoy your garden as much as possible.