‘Tis the season for gardening injuries! Protect your spine with these top tips:
1. Do a warm up before gardening
Gardening can be a real workout, so warming up your muscles first is a good idea. Try a brisk five-minute walk and some stretching exercises. If you have back pain, then work with your Vibrant Life Health Care provider to ensure your joints and muscles are functioning just as they should before you begin.
2. Careful lifting
It’s easy to lift heavy pots, bushes, and full watering cans incorrectly and damage your back. To lift correctly, begin by squatting, not bending at your waist. Use both hands to hold the object, keeping it close to your body, and slowly straighten your legs as you lift.
Try minimizing lifting, use a wagon, a dolly, or other aid to carry heavy items. It’s possible some jobs that involve heavy lifting and twisting may be best left to others.
3. Take a few breaks
It’s easy to lose track of time when you love being out in the yard. If you’ve been in one position for a while, do some stretches during these breaks.
4. Use support from kneelers and chairs
Stretching and twisting put added stress on the joints and discs in your spine. Getting down on the ground—and back up—can be painful or even impossible, depending on your level of pain and flexibility. Heavy-duty kneelers, especially those with raised, padded handles to help you get up and down, allow you to use your arm strength to aid in the process. Kneelers usually include a well-cushioned base to reduce stress and impact on your knees and back. Many kneelers also convert to a low chair.
5. Add cushioning with knee pads
Wearable knee pads are a good option. It’s best to maximize cushioning.
6. Use specialized and ergonomic tools
Long-handled tools can eliminate much of the bending required by planting and weeding. Long-handled trowels and cultivators can be helpful if bending forward causes or worsens your back pain.
7. Bring the plants to you
Raised-bed gardening using beds 2 to 3 feet tall offer ergonomic options. Some of the sturdier raised beds include an edge where the gardener can sit while planting or harvesting vegetables or herbs.
To reap similar benefits and avoid bending, focus on hanging plants from a wall, fence post, tree branch, or easily accessible window box. Planters designed to attach to a balcony can also be a good option for flowers or a small herb garden.
8. Keep plants contained
Concentrating on growing plants in containers can make gardening much easier. In addition to flowers, larger containers can be well-suited to growing lettuce and other vegetables. Be sure to use extra-deep containers for tomatoes.