Around this time of year I always see an increase in the number of people who are in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s come to see my with back pain, as a result of gardening. As there is a lovely stretch in the evenings and the weather is starting to get warmer, the sound of lawns getting cut becomes all the more common.
But is there anything that can be done to help avoid gardening getting the better of your back?
Let’s dive in and discuss three simple tips to help you avoid ending crocked, from gardening.
1 – Ease into it
One of the biggest mistakes that I hear of people making is that once the first real fine day comes along, they get stuck into the garden like there is no tomorrow, which often ends up resulting in a very stiff and sore back tomorrow.
Your body doesn’t like when there is too big of a change in activity, too soon. Especially when that activity is something that may not been done in 5 months.
As there is a lot of stooping and bending, along with digging, lifting and twisting involved, your back is one of the main areas to take an increase in load.
So, to help reduce the chances of you ending up with a sore and stiff after a days gardening try to ease back into where possible.
It’s almost training for a sport. You wouldn’t just out and play a full 60 minutes of football after not playing for 6 months. You’d start with a few training sessions and build up.
So, try a few shorter days in the garden first, where you have a time limit and build it up gradually. Let’s say with no more than 45 minutes for a few days and then add 15 minutes onto it after a week.
This will help your body to adjust to the new activity (as you may not have done it for 6 months) and build up to be ready for the next weeks work.
2 – Take regular breaks
This may seems obvious to some, but it’s amazing how many people start working in the garden and keep going until the job is done. Which, may be 3 hours later.
That can be a lot of time spend in the one position and you may have read from previous articles of mine, your body loves moving and changing position.
So, every 15 minutes or so just stand up, straighten out, even walk around a few steps. Something to give you a quick break from been bent over with a trowel weeding a flower bed.
To give a complete rest from activity, stop for a cup of tea or sit down for a drink of water after 45 minutes to an hours work, to give your body a little chance to recover.
3 – Try some stretching afterwards
As you doing movements that you may not have done in a while, your muscles will be worked in ways they haven’t been worked for a while.
Chances are, they will be tired from the new type of work. To reduce the chance of you feeling stiff and sore the next day a little bit of light stretching can help.
Gentle stretching of your back, shoulder and legs will bring the muscle through it’s full range of motion and reduce the chances of waking up feeling stiff and sore the next day.
To sum up:
There are 3 simple tips you can take to the garden with you next time you are going out with a trowel or shovel.
Remember to ease into it slowly, take a couple of breaks and do a few gentle stretches afterwards.
If it happens that you overdid it and are very sore or stiff the next day, then take it easier that day to avoid and extra harm. You could try a hot bath or go for a deep tissue massage to help speed up the recovery process.
However, if you tried these things and find that you have a pain or ache that is not going away, then my advice is to get it checked out by a physio.
It just may need some specific treatment and help to get you back to where you need to be.
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