Four Tips to Prevent Back Pain While Gardening | SIX08 Health Styling for tooltip.

Save your back this gardening season

Prevent back pain this season. Spring is finally here, and the beautiful flowers have arrived. Gardening season is now underway and many of us are anxious to start growing our garden. While gardening is a very rewarding and peaceful pastime, it can also increase your aches and pain if you are not careful. Before you get out those spades and rakes, consider these back-saving tips to help minimize your risk of injury.  

Tip #1: Warm-up with stretches 

You may be under the impression that gardening isn’t a vigorous activity and doesn’t require any stretching, but it does! Gardening requires many repetitive movements and some heavy lifting, and your muscles will appreciate a proper warm-up. Your body may have become de-conditioned over the winter months and gardening introduces new movements. Need stretching ideas? Click the link and view the Straighten Up Alberta program. 

Tip #2: Get proper tools 

Tools can be a direct cause of your aches and pains. Tools come in many different styles and sizes. Not only do you want a tool that is right for the job, but you also need a tool that is appropriate for your body size. Before you make a purchase, make sure the tool size, shape, and weight are right for you. Keep blades meant for digging sharp so you don’t over-exert yourself.

Tip #3: Be aware of your body mechanics 

Being aware of your body movements during gardening can help save your back and arms from injury. Repetitive injuries are very common, and gardening is full of repetitive motions. Sustained postures can also bring discomfort so consider varying your tasks. Here are some body movements to be mindful of: 

  • Twisting: When working in your garden, twisting at the waist is a common movement when working in the space around you. To avoid repetitive twisting, square up your body to the area you are working on. Same tip applies whenever you are lifting. Do not twist at the waist while lifting, instead, pivot and turn your whole body. 
  • Lifting heavy loads: Consider using a wheelbarrow or asking for help if you need to lift something heavy. This can help minimize the risk of back injury. If you do have to lift that bag of soil on your own, take the time to get in a squat position and lift with your legs. 
  • Elbows bent: If you are going to be digging, make sure you keep your elbows bent. This can help reduce the amount of stress on your muscles and ligaments. 
  • Pinching & pulling: Avoid repetitive pinching and pulling with your fingers and thumb. Using tools can help reduce this repetitive motion. A sustained, tight grip while using pruning scissors can also cause discomfort, so make sure you keep your grip light. 
  • Reaching: Continuously reaching above your head can cause discomfort in your shoulders. To avoid this, use a sturdy ladder or step stool to bring your task below shoulder-level.  
Tip #4: Take breaks 

It is important to listen to your body. The next task can wait. Set an alarm every 15-20 minutes as a reminder to move and get water. Pacing yourself can help reduce those aches and pains.  

Prevent back pain this spring by using these four simple tips – and connect with your healthcare team when needed.