Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could enjoy working in our gardens without suffering the agony of chronic back pain? Wouldn’t it be nice to get your hands in the ground without fear of being bedridden for a couple of days afterwards or relying on pills to ease the pain? Thankfully, there are a variety of opportunities to work in our gardens without suffering as greatly as we have in the past. Our chronic back pain can be minimized with these six easy tips.
- Warm up first. Gardening is not the same as sipping tea. We like to think of it as a relaxing activity and in many ways it is. It also takes a great deal of exertion. You could think of it as a workout and you would be right! Walking out to your garden and jumping right in without a stretch is just asking for chronic pain flare ups. Take the time to do some light stretching before you head to the garden. Go for a brisk, short, 10-minute walk. Have a chat with your therapist about what ways would be best for you to prepare for this workout.
- Use the right tools. As the old adage says, “use the right tool for the job.” Reducing back pain is as easy as identifying when you should be using another tool. Kneelers and gardening chairs are a great option for some people as they reduce the difficulty of getting up and going back down. The point is, to make sure that you’re using the right tool for you. There are other tools available such as knee pads, scooters, and back supports that provide relief from other efforts that can antagonize your back. Look for other back-saving tools like long-handed trowels and cultivators, special hoses and many other that are designed specifically to keep back pain at bay.
- Take regular breaks. Time flies when you’re having fun. It’s very easy to get entirely focused on your carefully prepared rows of carrots and to forget that the clock is still turning. Next thing you know, an hour has gone by with you bent over the garden stressing your back out. Make sure to set a timer for 20-30 minutes so you will be reminded to change your position. Stand up, drink some water, walk around a bit and admire your garden from above. These little breaks are critical to long-term gardening without chronic back pain.
- Avoid twisting or overstretching yourself. How many times do you catch yourself looking for a tool that you just had in your hand, only to find it six feet away in some odd place you couldn’t believe you put it? Gardeners often spend a lot of time reaching for tools and twisting their bodies in the process. Keep as many tools as you can nearby, possibly in a basket that you can bring along with you. The repetitive stress of reaching and twisting for your tools can cause undue strain on your lower back and more flare-ups.
- Lift carefully or maybe not at all. It’s amazing how many things in gardening can be heavy; watering cans, pots, bags of soil, or plants, all of which can do a real number on your back. When possible, don’t even use your own strength to move something like this. Try using one of many carts available at a local hardware store. The carts are a great option as they allow you to bring around all kind of tools and materials without stressing your back. Finally, don’t lift with your back; squat down and let your legs do all of the work.
- Consider designing your garden to make it better for your back. The first thing to consider is the layout of your garden. Do you have space to walk through? Are you having to bend over for every activity? Some excellent alternatives would be to do some container gardening or better yet, raised beds. Whatever it takes to keep you from bending awkwardly over your garden.
There you have it. Six ways that you can improve your gardening while caring for your lower back and keeping out of pain. Keep this list handy. Better yet, create a routine involving most, if not all, of these suggestions and put them into practice. They will save you in the long run.
Despite our best laid plans, chronic back pain may still flare-up from time to time. When this happens, treat the symptoms seriously and listen to your back. You’ll know when it’s time to rest your back, soak in a warm bath, and relax your muscles. At times, your flare-ups might still be significant. For those times, follow your bath with topicals like Sweet ReLeaf’s cannabis-infused body butters to naturally relieve your pain.
With these six preventative measures and a steady regimen of diet and stretching, you can still enjoy gardening without all of the worry.