As the weather is getting warmer, more of us are spending time outside and in our gardens. While it's a great hobby for so many of us, it can easily become something that can cause pain if you aren't protecting your back correctly. Check out these ideas for how to protect your back this gardening season so you can keep planting and tending to your fruits, veggies and flowers all summer long!
1. Squat down to pick up light scraps
When going to pick something off of the ground, it is important to squat or lunge down to pick it up instead of keeping your legs straight and bending forward at your back. While this may not seem like a big deal to do once or twice, repetitive motions of bending at your back over several hours of gardening can lead to unnecessary stress to the low back.
2. Sit on stool
When sitting to do gardening work, be sure to sit on a stool and not on the ground. When sitting on the ground, you have already used up a large part of your hip range of motion necessitating that when you bend forward you bend at your back instead of at your hips. This once again places unneeded stress to the low back. However, if you sit off the ground on a stool, you have used less of your hip mobility while sitting allowing for more mobility to come from the hip as you lean forward.
3. Lift with your legs not your back
Gardening can occasionally require heavy lifting. Whether it’s a wheelbarrow of mulch, a bucket/bag of weeds or grass clippings, or a stone you want to rearrange, it is important to use ideal mechanics during lifting. Ideal lifting mechanics including squatting down to grab a hold of the object you are looking to lift, bring it close to your body, and keep your back tall as you use your legs to raise to standing.
4. Take breaks
It is easy to get caught up in your gardening and not realize how much time has passed. This means you could be sitting in the same place for sometimes up to an hour or longer. Be sure to move around at least every 20-30 minutes by changing positions, walking around to admire your work, grabbing a glass of water, etc. Try incorporating these tips into your next gardening session! You will be amazed at how much more work you can get done in a shorter amount of time when using ideal mechanics to prevent pain.
Kaitlin Wensinger, PT, DPT