How to Avoid Back Pain When Gardening

Janet Bell, Osteopath

The Spring will soon be upon us ….. allegedly!  So, If you are considering dusting off your gardening tools, you should also be considering how to avoid waking up the next morning with that familiar stiff back.  These simple reminders may help you to steer clear of back pain when gardening:


Weeding and Planting

Kneeling is much better for your back than bending from the waist.  Get something to kneel on – there are plenty of special mats available, or use a piece of folded material.  Don’t over-reach and do try to remember to take regular breaks.


 Digging

Try a ‘warm up’ of some simple stretching exercises before you start digging.  Make sure you have the right tool for the job – lightweight and long handled tools are best.  Keep your back straight while lifting a loaded fork or shovel.  Use your legs and not your back to lift.  If you need to dig a large area, spread the work over a few days, try not to do it all in one go!


Pruning

When pruning, or working from ladders, avoid stretching and leaning over.  There is always the danger of a step ladder falling, especially on uneven ground.  It is always a good idea to take the time to come down from the ladder and move it, rather than lean and fall off.  Work close to you, if something is completely out of your reach use long handled pruners.


Mowing

Beware of swinging hover mowers from side to side – this twists the spine.  Don’t use a small push mower to mow a large area.  Again, use the right tool for the job!  Keeping as upright as possible, mow a bit at a time taking frequent breaks.  Be careful when starting petrol mowers with a pull cord – brace your foot against the machine and check your balance before pulling.


Finally, enjoy your garden and the gardening!  However, should you require treatment or any further advice, Janet Bell, or one of our other Osteopaths, will be delighted to help.