Tips to avoid pain in the garden.

Gardening season is here!

Back injuries are common, especially at the start of the season when our bodies aren’t used to the demands of lifting, lugging, bending and digging. Here are some tips to help avoid aches and pains in the garden.

-Pace yourself: Don’t overdo it the first time you get out there. Do a bit of work at a time and take lots of breaks to let your body adapt.

-Stretch: Do some gentle stretching for the neck, arms, low back and hips before you start. Warm up with some walking before getting right into the heavy lifting.

-Change positions: Avoid being bent over or kneeling in one position for too long. Every 5 minutes, try to change it up. Kneel on one knee, then the other. Then squat for a bit. Sit on a stool for a few minutes. Then get up and walk around. Do what you can to change up your positioning.

-Make it easy on yourself: Use the right tools for the job. Use a longer shovel so you don’t have to bend as much. Use a wheelbarrow or garden cart. Move your planters up onto a bench so you don’t have to bend down. Or used raised beds in the garden to avoid bending as well.

-Bend at the hips: When you bend over, avoid bending or ‘rounding out’ your low back. That tends to stress the low back. Instead, bend at your hips and let your butt and leg muscles do the work. Generally as you bend, you should feel the pull in your hamstrings (at the back of your legs), and not in your low back. See the pictures below.

Bending at the Low Back. Avoid this.
Bending at the hips. Do this.

-Lift close to your body: Whenever you are lifting, try to keep the load as close to your body as possible.