The Aching Backyard: Preventing and Treating Pain while Gardening or Landscaping
Gardening is a wonderful activity that can help you connect to nature and make your yard beautiful. However, spending hours working in the backyard can sometimes leave you with a not-so-welcome souvenir: back pain.
Whether you’re an avid gardener or a weekend dabbler, it’s important to prioritize your health and take steps to prevent and treat discomfort, so you can continue feeling that dirt between your fingers, pain-free. In this blog, we’ll explore some practical tips and techniques to help you maintain a healthy and fulfilling experience in your own backyard.
Warm-up and Stretching
Just like any physical activity, gardening and landscaping can require warm-up exercises to prepare your muscles for the tasks ahead. Before diving into your gardening chores, take a few minutes to perform some simple warm-up exercises like shoulder rolls, gentle stretches, and walking or light jogging. Focusing on your core, back, and leg muscles will help loosen them up and reduce the risk of strain or injury.
Use Proper Tools and Techniques
Investing in ergonomic garden tools can make a significant difference in reducing strain on your back. Long-handled tools with padded grips and adjustable handles will help maintain a more upright posture while working. When lifting heavy objects like bags of soil or potted plants, remember to bend your knees and use your leg muscles rather than straining your back.
Practice Good Posture
Maintaining proper posture while gardening or landscaping is crucial for preventing back pain. Avoid prolonged periods of bending over or kneeling, as these positions can put unnecessary stress on your spine.
Instead, try using raised garden beds or containers at waist level to minimize the need for bending. When weeding or planting at ground level, consider using a kneeling pad or cushion to provide support for your knees and back.
Take Regular Breaks
It’s essential to take regular breaks to give your body a chance to rest and recover. Set a timer or schedule breaks every 30 minutes to an hour and use this time to stretch, hydrate, and relax. Taking short breaks will not only prevent fatigue but also allow you to assess any potential strain or discomfort before it becomes more severe.
Incorporate Strength and Flexibility Exercises into your Exercise Routine
A strong and flexible body is less prone to injuries and pain. Consider incorporating exercises that target your core, back, and leg muscles into your regular fitness routine. Simple activities like yoga, Pilates, or swimming can help improve your overall strength, flexibility, and posture, making you more resilient to the demands of gardening or landscaping.
Utilize Proper Lifting Techniques
When lifting heavy objects in the garden, it’s crucial to follow proper lifting techniques to avoid straining your back. Bend your knees, keep your back straight, and engage your leg muscles to lift the load. Avoid twisting while lifting, and if an object is too heavy, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Alternatively, use tools like wheelbarrows or wagons to transport heavy materials, reducing the strain on your back.
Ice and Heat Therapy
If you do experience back pain or muscle soreness after a day in the garden, ice and heat therapy can seriously help. Applying an ice pack for 15-20 minutes several times a day can help reduce inflammation and alleviate acute pain. After a couple of days, you can switch to heat therapy using a warm towel or a heating pad to promote relaxation and improve blood circulation to the affected area.
If your pain is persistent and doesn’t go away or get better in a few days, it’s worth giving the pain doctors at ReclaimAbility a call as soon as possible. The earlier you treat any injuries, the better you’ll feel in the long run.