Don’t Fall Victim To Gardeners Back Pain Enjoy A Safe Summer Gardening…
With the winter finally moving into spring and the weather being so great it can be all too tempting to get out in the garden and become what we call a “weekend warrior”. Having sat down at work all week it can just be far too tempting to get out in the garden and spend hours, pulling up weeds, digging, pruning, mowing the lawn the list goes on…Only to find at the end of the day or even the next morning you wake up and have back pain.
At Sittingwell we want you to avoid the common pit falls, prevent back pain from occurring in the first place and just get on with living and enjoying life pain free. So we have put together some key bits of advice to stop you from getting back pain when you are gardening throughout the summer and beyond.
Gardening is exercise so don’t forget to warm up…
With any exercise you need to warm up your body and build up gently before doing anything too strenuous. It may not be necessary to do a full stretching routine before you start gardening but consider the order you start your jobs.
If you can, go for a walk before you begin to get your muscles warm and your blood circulating. If this isn’t an option you can take extra journeys to collect all of your equipment. Start by carrying over the lighter tools/objects first.
Avoid heavy-duty work as a first job, begin with lighter tasks such as clipping hedges (below shoulder height), hoeing, and weeding in short bursts. Sawing branches, moving large plant pots or heavy digging should be done later once you are warmed up.
Mix it up a bit…
Problems creep in when you stay in one position for a long time. This is because the same structures are under the most strain and having to do the most work. Switch jobs as much as you can to change the demands you put on your body.
If you have weeding to do and some pruning of taller bushes/shrubs keep changing between the two tasks rather than getting all the weeding done first then doing all the pruning. This way you will be moving from crouching, kneeling and standing and giving your back a bit of a break naturally at the same time.
Take a glass of water out with you, or better still a bottle – of water :-). If you went to the gym I’m sure you would remember to drink fluids, the need is just a great when you’re gardening.
Not only does drinking water keep blood circulating well and supplying the energy needed to your muscles, but getting up to take a drink also provides a micro-break and change in position for your back too.
Watch your posture…
Avoid slouching over to weed this is a prime cause of back pain gardening. Use weeding tools, kneel or crouch down instead and change these postures. Bending over forwards for long periods strains the structures that support your lower back and again causes back pain, particularly when you are rounding your back.
When lifting, keep the item you are carrying straight in front of you and close to your body. Ideally squat down to lift the object and use your legs to stand up and lift the load. Your legs are a lot stronger than the smaller muscles in your back and much more tolerant to heavy loads.
Avoid lifting and twisting no matter what the weight. This dual action puts the most damaging forces through the back. Whilst a one off movement may not cause problems, repeating the action will weaken the back and can lead to strains and back ache later, as can twisting at awkward angles to reach that branch that needs clipping back.
Little and often…
I know a good sunny and dry day is not a regular occurrence in the UK, but try to avoid getting everything done in one go when they do occur. If I asked you to do an 8-hour workout in the gym after a 5-month break you would think I had gone mad? And rightly so! The principle is the same with gardening and avoiding back pain. After a winter break from getting into the garden, don’t then expect your body to be able to do a whole day and for you not have painful consequences.
Keep your daily objectives realistic and if you can break tasks down into maybe an hour in the morning and another hour later in the day. The best way to tackle the garden is to do things little and often. Make the most of these lovely light and warm evenings. Stand back admire your beautiful plants then when you spot the dastardly weed grab it while you can. Even 20 minutes each day, is usually plenty to keep unwanted growth at bay and not put too much pressure on your back.
We hope these tips allow you to enjoy your garden throughout the summer without suffering for your hard work!