This time of year, everyone starts going out and gardening and they tend to overdo it a little. Here at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne I have more and more people coming in with injuries related to what they’ve done in the garden. Some have just overdone it but others will continue to do things that are bad for their backs and necks. So I thought I’d go through and describe some of the most common mistakes that people do when gardening that aggravates their body.
Weeding in the garden
The first one that lots of people do that causes injury is weeding. This can be a very bad thing for the back when done with poor posture. We don’t consider it necessarily that bad because we’re not necessarily carrying a heavy weight. The realism is that as we are pulling, yanking, tugging on these weeds this provides the same increased pressures as lifting. The stronger we have to pull the heavier the weight it could be compared to. This means that a lot more pressure is put on the muscles, the joints the ligaments and even the disc in the spine. As a result of this I am seeing lots of people who have aggravated their back’s when gardening, especially if they already had low back issues.
Obviously, what we also do is we aim to do a small area in the first place for half an hour or so but that area soon gets bigger and becomes longer. This then results in us suffering for a few days. This means that you have actually injured your spine, it may not cause you a long-term problem now but with repetitive use and repetitive damage like this it can lead to a real problem. So, it is best to adopt good positions whilst gardening now rather than when you actually have a back problem.
When gardening first keeping your back straight you can usually do this by kneeling, this gets you closer to the weeds and therefore easier to get into the area but also without putting that pressure through the spine.
Using specific tools can be very helpful also, they help to loosen the soil and release the weeds which means it takes less pressure to pull them out. Some people won’t be able to do it like this because they can’t bend due to their knees. In this case you can do what’s called a golfer’s lift where you can grab on to the weed and used your momentum going backwards to pull it out without having to round your back. Again, the use of tools to help to loosen the weed and the soil around it is very very useful so that you don’t have to use as much pressure to pull it out.
Trimming the hedges
The other thing we do at this time is we like to reshape our garden so it grows in the right way. This means we’re out there with the secateurs and big scissors trimming things back. What we tend to do when we do this as we tend to reach and crane and try and get into awkward positions to get those little bits. Realistically what we should do is just move because some things can be quite high. Getting a step ladder is very useful so we can get those top bits without having to reach so far. Reaching can lead to pulling in lower back muscles that can lead to aggravating the shoulders, it can also lead to the neck craning so can lead to injury. Especially if you do this a lot and the likelihood is the next day you will wake up with a pain or two and if you do this repetitively, once again this can lead to long-term issues.
The other thing that we do at this time is replanting. This means that we are digging and moving soil. With this we need to make sure that we move things in the best way possible with digging getting your body behind the way as you put the pressure into the ground is really important that again keeping the back straight is incredibly important. What we tend to do is we tend to round our backs as we do this which again can lead to injury as that is a position that the back is very susceptible to injury.
Moving soil can be very detrimental also, when we move it with a shovel or spade it is important again to keep the back straight and you want the pressure to go through the legs instead again what we tend to do is round the back and use our back to help us to move the soil this is not ideal and again can lead to injury.
You want to adopt a long forward stance and this can help to keep the back straight. When moving bags of soil, it can be incredibly heavy so if you do you have a wheelbarrow this can be very helpful, alternatively having someone help you carry them is definitely a good option. This means that you spread the weight which means you are literally carrying half the weight that you would have been.
Yours in health
Want to find out more about low back pain?
We have a huge variety of blogs on low back pain. If you’ve found this blog helpful and would like to find out more, then please check out one of our other blogs on low back pain below.
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Gardening and Low Back Pain
Back pain in the elderly
By Mykel Mason
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