Prevent Back Pain While Gardening

St George Chiropractor

Gardening can either be a chore or a relaxing recreation.  Either way, its important to protect your back from injury.  Here are some safe gardening tips from your St George chiropractor.

Causes of Back Pain

Frequently, the injuries we suffer while gardening result from repeated, low grade stresses to the ligaments and small joints of the spine.  These stresses cause micro-injury which result in swelling and inflammation of the joints and ligaments.  Reactive muscle splinting creates the deep, dull achy pain, that we feel for the next few days.

Injury Prevention

There are many ways to prevent injuries while gardening. The way in which you bend and move determines how much stress is put on the spinal joints and ligaments.  By using certain muscles to protect your back you can reduce the likelihood of developing injury and pain. It is important to warm up before any strenuous activity is started. The simplest form of warming up is walking. Even walking for 7 minutes gives the body enough preparation to avoid most gardening related injuries.  So, take a quick walk around the block before gardening.  This should be followed by some stretching and flexibility exercises.  This only needs to take a couple of minutes.  Stretching the low-back and pelvic muscles might look funny to the neighbors, so it might be best to do them in the backyard or in the house.

Flexibility Stretches

The flexibility exercises should be done regularly once a day preferably in the morning and also before and after gardening.

  1. Lie down on your back, bend your right leg and pull the knee up to the chest keeping the other leg straight. Repeat on the left leg, and pull both knees up together. Repeat this exercise 2 or 3 times.
  2. Kneel on the floor on all fours, relax the back and let the spine go hollow, and then reverse the curve in the spine by arching the back. Repeat this 2 or 3 times.
  3. Stretching the front of the thigh: Standing up, support yourself with one hand against the wall and take hold of the right ankle with your right hand, bend your knee by pulling the heel towards your buttock until you feel a stretching sensation on the front of the thigh. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat this three times on each leg. If you feel any discomfort in your back stop the exercise.
  4. Stretching of the inside of the thigh: sitting cross legged, gently push down on your knees until you can feel the stretch. Repeat as above.

Chiropractic Gardening Tips

  1. Kneel on one leg rather than bending down repeatedly from the hips.
  2. Try and keep your back hollow when digging, with the legs well spaced apart. Use your legs rather than your back.
  3. Try and vary the tasks of the day into short bursts of different activities rather than slogging away all at one thing.
  4. When using a weed-eater try to resist the temptation to swing the mower from side to side in too great of an arc. Don’t over extend your reach. Instead mow forwards and backwards, and in small arcs.
  5. If you suffer from a knee problems and tend to stoop rather than kneel, then use a cushion to kneel on or gardening stool to sit on, try keeping the back as hollow as possible.
  6. Keep yourself warm and covered, i.e. keep shirts tucked in; this prevents the muscle from becoming chilled.
  7. If you ache the next day, rest, and seek the advice of your chiropractor who will advise you whether you should apply heat, or ice packs to the area, or if you require further treatment.

Dr. Andrew White | St George Chiropractor

Featured image courtesy of and winnond

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