springSpring has sprung and many of us are looking at our gardens with a view to getting stuck in, but with a winter of inactivity, how do we avoid back pain whilst gardening?

A Gallup poll for the BBC – BBC News Site revealed that 42% of adults have suffered from back pain and nearly half of those said that the pain was as a result of gardening. What’s worse, as someone who is over 50, is that the proportion who blamed gardening for their back ache was even higher!

While gardening may bring calmness to your mind by reducing anxiety and stress, long periods of planting can take a toll on your back or make your existing back pain worse  – the good news is that doesn’t mean you need to cross gardening off your list. With a few adaptations and a dash of creativity, you can still exercise your green thumb by following these strategies for minimizing back injury!

Warm – up before you start!

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. One relatively gentle stretch is the knee to chest stretch, in which you lie down on your back, then pull both knees to your chest.  You will notice professional athletes always do warming up exercises before they race or partake in their particular sport. It gets the blood flowing and the muscles moving. Before you start a heavy job, do some lighter jobs and ease into it.

Take frequent breaks!

It’s easy to lose track of time when you love being out in the garden. Take a water bottle with you as a reminder to take frequent breaks and hydrate yourself. If you’ve been in one position for a while, do some stretches during these breaks.

Also, avoid doing the same kind of task, such as pruning, for a long period. Switch to another activity and rotate these tasks periodically. Try not to garden for longer than 20-30 minutes at a time.

Take your time!

Don’t try to carry everything at once. Make multiple trips to the compost bin and don’t over-fill the wheelbarrow. There really isn’t any point in straining yourself with large loads. Remember, take your time, don’t try to do everything at once. Gardening is supposed to be fun!

Protect your knees!

Wearable or moveable knee pads are a good option if you feel more comfortable kneeling at ground level. Multiple types of foam are often used to maximize cushioning. Be sure to purchase strong, good quality knee pads, which fit correctly and have sturdy straps. Memory foam pads are another option to consider.

Get the right tools!

Long-handled tools can eliminate much of the bending required by planting and weeding. For example, long-handled trowels and cultivators can be helpful if bending forward causes or worsens your back pain.

Despite your efforts and best intentions, you may end up with some low back pain, if this happens it is time to see your Chiropractor or massage therapist and get it sorted out!

Should you require any further information or would like to speak to a member of our team please call us on: Hitchin 01462 420077 or Luton 01582 579687, alternatively e-mail us on: hichin@healesclinics.com or luton@healesclinics.com