This time of year, many adults spend a great amount of time gardening -- whether it be mowing, landscaping, nurturing fruit and vegetable crops, or tending to flowers. It's a great outdoor activity -- sun, fresh air, physical work. It also can be very stressful on the spine.
For obvious reasons, gardening can lead to painful spinal conditions like sciatica and bulging or herniated discs. It can aggravate pre-existing conditions. This is because the work of gardening involves hauling or pushing heavy things, bending down frequently or for long periods, twisting turning and reaching unnaturally.
We've compiled 10 Gardening Techniques to help you minimize the negative strain that gardening can place on your back. Follow these 10 tips and relish in your garden, enjoy the fruits of your labour, reap the rewards of a beautiful plot . . . . !
1. Warm Up/Stretch: In just 10-15 minutes you can warm up your muscles and relax your joints. Your body will thank you as you move easier and with greater range. Try simple Yoga postures and stretches before you dig in: Cat/Dog (image), ham stretch, hip flexors, knee to chest stretch.
2. Pace Yourself: Don't do too much too quickly. The work of gardening can be quite strenuous. Twisting, reaching, straining, hauling. It all adds up to strain on your spine. Don't try to get everything done in one day. Don't over-exert yourself.
3. Frequent Breaks: Take frequent breaks to rehydrate and to stretch. Be especially kind to your spine, hips and neck. Stay loose and flexible.
4. Healthy Posture: Stay vertical when possible. Constant bending strains the lower back and can cause serious painful low back conditions. (A nice idea . . . design your garden with hanging pots or elevated planting beds. These are not just easier to care for, they are beautiful to see.)
5. Proper Lifting: Bend at the knees, not at the hips! I can't say this enough. Let your thighs do the hard work.
6. Kneel With Knee Pads (don't bend): Treat yourself to a pair of foam or gel kneepads for ground level work. They do so much for alleviating low back pain and painful knees. Available for less than $20 at many stores.
7. Pivot When You Move Heavy Objects: You lift something on your right side and want to place it down on your left. Rather than turn at the hips, pivot on your feet. This slight step greatly reduces strain on your lower back that can lead to a bulging or herniated spinal disc.
8. Alternate Hands and Feet (Scissors): Especially when digging, hoeing or raking, use one arm and leg to exert the bulk of your work force. After a time, switch to your alternate arm/leg. When you maintain balance, you can work more effectively without tiring or overstraining yourself.
9. Invest In the Right Tools: Rakes, hoes and shovels that enable you to do most of the work upright are best. Have on hand long-handled gardening tools and anything else that will make your gardening most enjoyable and effective. Do what you can to minimize stressful twisting and lifting.
10. Use a Wheelbarrow: Whenever possible. Dirt, soil, bricks and plants can be incredibly heavy. A good wheelbarrow is designed to help you transport heavy and cumbersome items easily. Follow these 10 techniques to feel good while you garden . . . and afterwards! Nothing is more dispiriting than not being able to enjoy your home, your hobby, and your life.
Dr. Ron Nusbaum is the Director of Back Clinics of Canada. He has been in practice for 21 years, helping those suffering from severe, chronic back pain and neck pain achieve a pain-free life and regain vitality and strength. Dr. Nusbaum has performed more than 4,000 Spinal Decompression sessions over the last two years, and his patients experience an unprecedented success rate when they follow his program of care.
Spinal Decompression Toronto: Back Clinics of Canada serves primarily the Southern Ontario Region, but patients do come from across Canada and the United States, and sometimes from overseas.
Dr. Nusbaum is happy to answer any questions about back pain, neck pain, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, spinal arthritis, Spinal Decompression, the DRX9000 Spinal Decompression System, or any other back-related topic. He is a personal, hands-on doctor who takes a personal interest in every patient who comes to the clinic.
Learn more by visiting Back Clinics of Canada or call 905-884-3311 (toll-free 1-877-828-DISC).