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Gardening with Back Pain

Back Pain and Gardening

Though we are in the middle of winter, many local gardeners have already begun looking through seed catalogs and planning which plant varieties they will begin cultivating in the next couple of months.  Gardening has many mental benefits – it is an activity that promotes mindfulness and can reduce stress and anxiety.  However, for those who suffer from chronic back pain, the physical movements involved with tending a garden may make symptoms worse.  Fortunately, there are adaptations that can be made.

How to Keep Gardening with Back Pain

Stretch and warm-up.  Do not begin gardening without first warming up your muscles.  Take a short, brisk walk, and do some gentle stretching exercises.  Just as with any physical activity that involves a variety of movements, starting off cold can increase your risk of injury. 

Use support when lifting.  Moving heavy pots, full watering cans, and large plants without adequately supporting your back muscles can cause harm.  Practice correct lifting form – do not bend at the waist, but rather, use your legs.  Squat next to the object, and use both hands to hold it as you rise by slowly straightening out your legs.  Be sure to keep the item you are lifting close to your body.  There are many lifting aids you can utilize, such as a dolly or a gardening wagon.  If you are carrying a large watering container, fill it only halfway to reduce its weight.  

Be realistic.  Do not downplay your back condition.  Ask for assistance with tasks that involve twisting or heavy lifting. 

Take breaks.  Many avid gardeners find it incredibly easy to lose track of time while tending to plants.  Set a reminder on your watch or phone to take frequent breaks.  Rehydrate with water during your rest periods.  Repeat your stretches.  Rotate tasks so you are not doing the same repetitive movements for an extended period of time.  

Use specialized equipment.  There are many products on the market that can help to make gardening easier on your body, such as:

  • Kneelers. Getting up and down from the ground repeatedly can be painful even for those that do not suffer from regular back pain.  A kneeling aid, particularly the type with raised and padded handles, can assist while reducing the impact on your back and knees. Most kneelers also convert into a convenient seat.
  • Long-handled equipment.  Gardening tools with extended handles can reduce or eliminate the bending necessary to perform planting and weeding tasks.

Watch the YouTube video, which goes over a few stretches to perform before beginning your gardening.

Consider a Vertical Garden

Vertical gardening, sometimes called wall gardening, is a method of planting upwards, and not in the ground.  Being able to work at eye level with less bending may reduce back pain.  In some vertical set-ups, the soil is scooped into fabric pockets, and seeds are planted.  The fabric pockets are mounted to a vertical structure or wall.  In addition to making the task of gardening easier on the back, the effect is visually appealing – if the plants thrive, they form a wall of greenery.  

Stockton Personal Injury Attorneys

Thank you for reading our discussion of ways to keep gardening in spite of back pain.  I’m Ed Smith, and I have been a Stockton, California personal injury lawyer for more than 38 years.  Car accidents occur every day on our local roads and highways.  Injuries from car accidents can be life-altering.  If you or anyone you love has been injured due to the actions of a negligent driver, my team of injury lawyers is available to provide compassionate, free, and friendly advice.  Our local number is (209) 227-1931, and our toll-free line for calls coming from outside the region is (800) 404-5400.

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