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A chiropractor’s guide to protecting the back when gardening

Image shows James Revell - Doctor of chiropractic getting to grips with the patio plants outside of the Lushington Chiropractic X-Ray Suite here in Eastbourne.

March 23rd, 2018 823 post views

So the focus for my blog this month is GARDENING and some tips for protecting the back when gardening.  It is inspired by my mum and all my patients here in Eastbourne who are just starting to get back out in the garden now the weather is warming up.

Getting out in the garden can be very therapeutic. It can be stress relieving and being out in the fresh air is lovely, plus the sun is great for Vitamin D levels.  Growing plants, especially your own vegetables can be very satisfying, and having that nice environment to sit out in on a nice summers day or for a BBQ is well worth the effort.

Of course, as a chiropractor here at Lushington Chiropractic there are a few things I would say to keep in mind.  If you are prone to back problems, it is important to be aware that certain activities can exacerbate discomfort and that certain steps should be taken to protect your back when gardening.  I firstly started out doing a little research of my own by getting out in the garden at home to appreciate what it is my patients are doing when they tell me they have been doing a little digging!  Wow when those roots are holding tight they are hard to get out! Not like the plants we have in our little patio garden outside of our X-Ray suite.

Image shows James Revell - Doctor of chiropractic getting to grips with the patio plants outside of the Lushington Chiropractic X-Ray Suite here in Eastbourne.

James getting to grips with the patio plants.

So what is it about gardening that means we need to take care?

To those unfamiliar with what is entailed in maintaining an attractive and orderly outdoor space, gardening may seem like a sedate pastime. Yet, the reality is that many aspects of gardening can involve sudden bursts of activity that the body may well not be ready for, such as twisting and lifting. Combine these movements with poor posture and poor technique and the results can be extremely painful.

The first point to make is that if you have good strong core and back muscles and have looked after your back in other daily activities and sports then your body is much more likely to be robust and ready for the exercises and challenges that you may throw at it.

If you are unsure about how to do this then ask advice from someone who can help, such as a chiropractor or a good personal trainer.

Secondly here are some tips that you should bear in mind:

Like any other exercise, start off slowly and warm up.  Going for a gentle walk, doing some light movement or starting off with lighter/easier jobs first will help your body warm up and lessen the chance of muscle strain. This may seem like overkill for a spot of gardening, but if you are serious about protecting your back it can be essential.

You will also need to wear clothes that are suitable for the task at hand when you step outside.  Tight clothes could constrict your movement. Also be mindful of the type of footwear that you have to prevent slipping in wet conditions.

When using a ladder or steps, make sure it is planted firmly in position.  Have someone with you if necessary to help and try not to overextend when you reach or lean out. Avoid this temptation by moving the ladder frequently when you are working over a large area.

Over-reaching and leaning is one to avoid even when not on a ladder.  Keep what you are doing closer to you, this will put less strain on the body.  You can get tools with longer handles to help with this.

Image shows Doctor of Chiropractic James Revell of Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne attending to the plants on the patio of the X-Ray suite.

Gardening? Not much digging going on here!

When digging, push down rather than pushing too far out in front, this helps to minimise bending.

If you are buying heavy items that are delivered, have them dropped off as close to where you need them as you can, to avoid having to carry them later.  Also if you are buying big bags of compost for instance, consider getting more smaller bags to make the lifting easier and alway carry heavy things close to the body.  A wheelbarrow is also handy to limit carrying.

If you are doing lots of potting, think about doing this on on a work surface at a comfortable height so as to limit stooping over.

Vary your activity and take regular breaks, don’t be tempted to do it all once due to the weather forecast!

A knee pad is useful for those knees, rather than kneeling on hard surfaces.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated in hot weather.

Finally if you think something is a bit too much, get someone to help out, take it easy and don’t overdo it.

If you are concerned about protecting the back when gardening, consider all the points above when you are getting outside this summer.  If you need some further advice or have back pain you can always contact us.  Our website is a good place to start.

Thats all for now, above all enjoy!

James

Categories: Health and Advice from Expert Chiropractors in Eastbourne

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11 responses to “A chiropractor’s guide to protecting the back when gardening”

  1. Carole Henderson says:

    I agree with you Vicky, I always vary my tasks to avoid staying in the same position for too long.

  2. Victoria White says:

    Well I find that having breaks, and particularly changing my type of task every 20 minutes or so, helps me avoid backache entirely on all but the most gardening-intensive days. Otherwise I really feel it afterwards.

  3. Mykel Mason says:

    Haha, I always need my regular check-ups

  4. Victoria White says:

    If you did everything perfectly you wouldn’t need us to treat you

  5. Mykel Mason says:

    Yes of course, I’m a chiropractor I do everything perfectly – James even lent me a wheelbarrow.

  6. Victoria White says:

    Did you follow James’ advice?

  7. Mykel Mason says:

    I just recently redid my garden.

  8. James says:

    For those of you who’ve asked – no I don’t usually garden in my suit! Thanks for reading and the cheeky comments this week 😉

    Remember when you do pop in next time I’ve also written a leaflet about gardening and back pain. It’s with the other leaflets I’ve written by our notice board. If we’ve run out just ask one of the lovely Clinic Assistants.

  9. This methods helps me while gardening, worth reading.

  10. Ellie says:

    Love the pic and looks like you having a great time in your garden! How’s it all coming on? Just hope we start to get a run of good weather and we can put all of your tips and points to practice. Thank you 🙂

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