8 Ways to Reduce Neck and Back Pain While Gardening
While gardening can help ease stress and anxiety and be a great way to get out in the sunshine and get some Vitamin D, long periods of weeding and planting can exacerbate your neck and back problems.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should cross gardening off your list of hobbies for good. With a few changes and some creativity, you can still exercise your green thumb and prevent pain with these eight tips from our team at Impact Medical Zephyrhills.
Believe it or not, gardening can be a real workout, so warming up and stretching your muscles before you start is a good idea. Try a brisk five-minute walk and some dynamic stretching exercises.
Stretching is an essential activity for gardeners because stretching:
- makes it easier to move
- taps into the strength of the muscles
- reduces the risk of injury
- improves balance and coordination
- decreases soreness in the following days after a day of gardening
To loosen your back muscles, try a gentle black-flexion exercise where you lie down on your back, then pull both needs to your chest while you bring your head forward. To reduce neck pain and fatigue, hold a long-handled tool in front of you with your hands spread wide. Keep your arms straight and reach up overhead until you feel a slight stretch.
If you already deal with existing back pain, ask your physician or physical therapist which stretches are the best for you.
#2. Lift with Support
Lifting heavy plant pots, bushes, or full watering cans without proper back support can injure the muscles, ligaments, and discs in your back. To lift heavy items more ergonomically, begin by squatting—not by bending your waist. Use both hands to hold the object, keep it close to your body, and slowly straighten your legs as you come to a standing position.
To minimize heavy lifting, use a wagon or dolly to help transport heavy items throughout your garden. Fill watering cans halfway or consider using soaker hoses or an automated irrigation system instead.
Tip: Depending on existing neck or back problems, garden chores that involve heavy lifting or twisting may be best left to others to complete.
#3. Take Breaks
We know it can be easy to lose track of time when you love being out in your garden. But make sure to take frequent breaks to stretch and hydrate yourself.
Also, try to avoid doing the same kind of task such as weeding or pruning for a long period. Switch to another activity and rotate through your garden tasks periodically.
#4. Add Cushion with Knee Pads
If you want to kneel at ground level without hurting your back, choose wearable or movable knee pads. These pads use multiple layers of foam to maximize cushioning and protect your knees while gardening.
When choosing knee pads, make sure that they are good quality, fit correctly, and have sturdy straps.
#5. Try Specialized Tools
Specialized long-handled tools can eliminate much of the bending and twisting required by weeding and planting in the garden. Long-handled trowels can be especially helpful if bending forward causes or worsens your neck or back pain.
Other accessibility-focused tools include:
- Long-handled adjustable sprayers
- Long-handled steel weed-puller
- Short-handled utility shovel for when you are close to the ground or seated
- Foldable wheelbarrow
#6. Bring the Plants to You
If in-ground gardening is becoming a pain in your neck, consider using raised beds that are 2-3 feet off the ground. Some sturdy raised beds include an edge where a gardener can sit when planting or harvesting fruits, vegetables, or herbs. They are often wheelchair accessible as well.
Planters that are designed to attach to a balcony can also be a great option for flowers or her garden because they bring your plants right to your level, no bending necessary!
#7. Grow in Containers
Growing plants in containers can make gardening super easy. In addition to flowers, you can grow lettuce and other vegetables in larger containers.
Wheeled plant caddies can be used to move heavier pots around to protect your back from lifting, pushing, or pulling motions.
#8. Think Outside the Box
Along the way, you may discover that you need to scale back your garden. Think about what is most important to you and what you can let go of or assign to others to complete. For example, if you just can’t live without your favorite annual flowers, plant them in a small area for a pop of color, and then emphasize low maintenance plants such as ground covers, elsewhere in the garden.
Also, you may want to consider having someone else handle the weeding if it’s the repetitive motions that are causing your back and neck pain. If you can’t avoid weeding, mulch your garden to discourage weed growth. Mulch also holds in moisture, so you won’t need to spend as much time watering. It’s a win-win!
Prevent Neck and Back Pain with Impact Medical
Don’t give up your favorite gardening pastime if you have neck or back pain, treat and prevent it with our team at Impact Medical Zephyrhills! From physical therapy and chiropractic care to interventional pain management, we can help you feel your best so you can spend your time out in the sunshine doing what you love best!
Ready to live pain-free? Call Impact Medical Zephyrhills to schedule a consultation today; 813-737-7965!