Gardening is a wonderful activity that is both creative and physical. It is the perfect way to improve your health, aid relaxation and strengthen your body. However, the strain it places on our muscles and joints, especially the back, can lead to discomfort and even injury. Back pain and joint problems often keep people out of the garden and away from gardening, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here is how to help back pain after gardening, and how you can prevent it.
Why do I experience back pain after gardening?
The repetitive bending motions involved in gardening chores like weeding, planting, digging and raking can be tough on the body. The constant leaning forward and backwards, kneeling down and getting back up again, and strenuous chores like digging can all lead to micro trauma in the muscles and inflammation. This happens as the body tries to heal and repair itself from the exercise. The increased blood flow to these muscles and excessive load through the discs in the spine and joints can result in back pain and prevent you from continuing your work in your garden.
The common causes of back pain during or after gardening
The primary cause is the strain on the lumbar discs in the spine and the muscles in the lower back. When gardening, these areas are stressed, especially if the core muscles aren’t strong enough to support the lower back. Your core muscles, like the pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles, combine to create a solid central “core” of the body to help withstand the load. If these muscles are weaker, the back and spine take on more of the strain, leading to pain and discomfort.
How can I prevent back pain while gardening?
Using ergonomic gardening aids designed to reduce strain can be beneficial. You can also strengthen your core muscles through exercise and activities like yoga. Whenever you are gardening, there are some precautions you can take to reduce the strain on your core muscles and joints to protect your body.
Bend at the knees: Always bend your knees rather than pivoting your back forwards, particularly when lifting heavy objects or completing repetitive tasks like weeding and planting.
Take regular breaks: Allow recovery time after your gardening sessions and spread strenuous activities over several days. This gives your body time to recover naturally.
Rotate tasks: Never spend more than 20–30 minutes on a single task. Switch to something new after a repetitive activity. For instance, alternate between raking and weeding so you can break up repetitive tasks throughout the day.
Ask for help: If you need to move heavy objects, or lift them, get assistance. You may have family living with you that are happy to help, especially if they are younger. You can also ask neighbours for help with heavy lifting.
Are there exercises I can do to strengthen my back to prevent pain after gardening?
Exercises that target the core muscles, including the glutes, pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles, can be very beneficial. Regular stretches that focus on the lower back can also alleviate and prevent pain. Yoga is often used to strengthen and develop the core muscles, and it is a peaceful activity that is perfect for the garden. Before you begin a gardening session, consider completing 10–15 minutes of yoga to warm up your core and get it ready for some work.
Are there any tools or adjustments that can alleviate back pain?
Plan your moves before you make them. Think about how to complete a task while putting a minimal amount of strain on your body. Use the right tools or gardening aids for each job, and make sure you take regular breaks. This can make a significant difference to the level of back pain you feel after gardening. Always listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard. If it feels like it is time to take a break, take one.
How can I maintain good posture while gardening to minimise strain on my back?
Maintaining a neutral spine, bending at the knees, and using tools that allow you to work without excessive bending or reaching can help maintain good posture. Plan your gardening tasks ahead of time, and use living aids or supports to complete your gardening chores without putting excess strain on your back and core muscles.
With a little planning and preparation, you can prevent back pain when gardening or reduce the level of pain you experience. Try yoga and basic stretching exercises to build up your core strength, and always ask for help from someone when faced with a big lifting task or a long period of repetitive strain. Many of our products can help make your gardening tasks easier and prevent you from experiencing back pain during and after tending to your garden.
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As a copywriter in the NRS Healthcare Creative Team, Lizzie worked on the Complete Care Shop and Healthcare Pro brands, primarily the digital platforms.