Gardening is a wonderful hobby for many people, and yard maintenance is a necessary evil for most. Whether you are a gardening enthusiast or a reluctant homeowner with a lawn to mow, you want to make sure you are able to do your tasks without pain. Here are four tips to prevent lower back pain after gardening, chiropractic style.
1. First, Get a Tune Up
If you haven't been to a medical doctor or chiropractor for a physical, spring is a great time to do it. Usually we recommend that our patients see us whenever they are changing activity type because your body changes the way it moves. When you are shoveling in winter you are moving differently than when you are playing volleyball in the summer. It is important to make sure your spine is in proper alignment in order to prevent injuries. Also, if you have health conditions that limit you physically, it is good to talk with your doctor about how you can still enjoy your favorite activities and stay safe doing it. Mention that you like to garden. Most doctors are happy to help you develop a plan to stay active with your favorite activities while remaining pain-free.
Stretching is something we all think about doing before going for a run or walk, but maybe not when you are going out to pull weeds. But stretching is a great way to ensure that you don't injure yourself with the repetitive motions common in gardening. If you need some ideas for stretches we have a collection of free video stretches available that are specifically targeted to reducing pain, but they are also wonderful for preventing injuries.
Stretch before and after gardening to increase blood flow to your muscles. And be sure to take regular breaks throughout your gardening session. Muscles are less prone to injury when you have good blood flow from stretching.
3. Get the Right Tools
Using the right tools helps prevent injury from bad posture. Don't waste money on cheap tools. Purchase high quality gardening tools that are ergonomically designed; and use them properly. This makes a huge difference in preventing injuries!
4. Lift and Bend Properly
This is a no-brainer, but we can't even begin to tell you how many patients we see everyday who know how to properly lift, but haven't made it a habit. Good bending and lifting and proper posture will help prevent injuries and pain.
Most people have heard that they should lift with their legs, but many don't know why. The reason is that the muscles in your upper leg and buttocks are significantly stronger than your back muscles. Your leg muscles were quite literally made for heavy lifting; so let them do it!
Here is a quick guide to proper lifting:
1. Bend at your knees.
2. Keep your back straight when you lean over. Bend from the waist and keep your back straight. Use a back brace to help train you if this is hard to remember.
3. Know your limits. There is no award given out to people who lift too much or too quickly.
If at any point, you experience pain, remember that pain is your body's way of saying that you should stop. Ice the area regularly until you can get to the chiropractor for an adjustment. Even though it is tempting, don't use heat as that can increase your inflammation and pain.
If you love gardening, you'll love our giveaway! Enter to win a $200 giftcard to Landscape Garden Center. Entries accepted until May 9th, 2017!