Back pain can arise from sometimes the simplest of gardening tasks. Its not always the heavy jobs that can trigger pain. This can then change gardening into a difficult and un-pleasurable task.
Here are a few ways to minimise the risk of back pain in the garden especially as it is National Gardening Week this week (11th -17th April 2016) .
Don’t wear tight or restrictive clothing as it may hinder your mobility and cause you to move awkwardly.
Start off with lighter jobs as gardening is like any other exercise, you need to warm up first, and this will lessen the chance of muscle strain. Don’t go straight into heavy garden work.
Love your knees
If you will be in a kneeling position for awhile use knee pads or cushions, and try to kneel on just one knee at a time, placing half of your weight through the opposite foot. This will also provide some counterbalance to the spine.
Get as close as possible to the things you are pruning and avoid over-stretching to reach. It is worth investing in some long handled secateurs to reach plants and bushes that are beyond normal reach.
When using a ladder or steps, make sure you are always facing it, keeping your shoulders, hips and knees pointing in the same direction.
Rather than awkwardly leaning or reaching, move the ladder or step regularly to keep up with where you are.
Any kind of ladder must be firmly and safely planted in position and, if possible, have someone else there to keep an eye on things..
Don’t try to reach out too early and avoid bending from the waist.
Take a break
Vary your activity by spending no more than 20-30 minutes on any one thing and make sure you take regular breaks and drink water to stay hydrated.
Be clever with paving
If laying a patio, keep the slab close to your body and bend your knees; it is sometimes better to bend one knee rather two, as your supporting leg gives you a position of strength. If using long objects like railway sleepers, it is recommended to get help rather than to struggle by yourself.
If you are planning a trip to the local DIY store to buy heavy items such as cement or gravel, buy smaller bags rather than one big bag as they are easier and safer to carry.
If you do buy heavy items, use a trolley and if on your own, ask an assistant at the store to help you.
If buying things like compost, sand or gravel in bulkier amounts, shovel the contents of the large bags straight into smaller containers or wheelbarrow from the back of the car.
Don’t lift with your arms straight out, keep the elbows bent and to your side to minimise the stress on your back.
If having items delivered, have them unloaded as close to where you need them as possible; this will save the effort of moving them again.
A specialist garden trolley might be worth investing in to move these sorts of materials around, especially if you have lots of patio pots to move around as well.
Watch a this video by the British Chiropractic Association called Mind Your Posture -Gardening.
Download their advice sheer here.