“You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt”
Gardening is one of the joys of life for many of us, but back pain can throw a wrench into the planting plans. That doesn’t mean you have to cross gardening off your list, with a few adaptations and a dash of creativity you can still exercise the green thumb by following some simple strategies to minimise injury:
- Warm up first –gardening can be a good work out, so warming up your muscles first is a good idea, try a brisk five minute walk and some stretching exercises, one relatively gentle stretch is the back flexion stretch in which you lie down on your back, then pull both knees to your chest while bringing your head forward. If you have back pain work with a physiotherapist to find the right stretches for you.
- Lift carefully – it’s easy to lift heavy pots, bushes and full watering cans incorrectly and possibly cause damage. To lift correctly you begin by squatting not bending at your waist and use both hands to hold the object, keeping it close to your body and slowly straightening your legs as you lift. Minimise lifting but using a wagon or trolley to carry heavy items from place to place. Fill large watering cans just half way and consider alternative watering options such as a hose. Depending on your back problems some jobs that involve heavy lifting and twisting may be best left to others.
- Take breaks –it’s easy to lose track of time when you love hanging out in the garden, take a water bottle with you as a reminder to take frequent breaks and if you have been in one position for along time, do some stretching during these breaks. Also, avoid doing the same kind of job for example pruning for a long period of time. Switch to something else for a while it’ll make it easier on your joints.
- Get support from kneelers and chairs –getting down on the ground and back up can be difficult if you have back pain. Heavy duty kneelers especially those with released padded handles can help you get up and down and allow you to use your arm strength to aid the process. Kneelers will usually include a well cushioned base which reduces the impact on your knees and back and many kneelers also convert to a low chair.
Finally, long handled tools can eliminate much of the bending required when planting and weeding, long handed trowels can be helpful if bending forward causes pain or worsens your disability. Don’t let back pain stop you enjoying your garden if you have “green fingers” seek the advice of a Chartered Physiotherapist who will assess and advice you to continue enjoying the great outdoors.
“There are no gardening mistakes only experiments”