Enjoy Pain-Free Gardening

Now that May is here and the sun is shining, many of us have migrated to the garden. While gardening is a great way to get active, it is important to take steps to prevent digging your way to a sore back. Use these tips to enjoy many pain-free days in your garden.
Ease into the gardening season
You wouldn’t go out and run a marathon after a winter of rest, so don’t expect to spend hours in the garden in the spring without paying for it the next day. Set reasonable goals for what you want to accomplish each day in the garden. After all, you still want to be able to garden tomorrow!
Like any other form of exercise, warming up is key to preventing injuries in the garden. Start with lighter, easier activities in the garden. As you warm up, you can ease into the heavier tasks.
Avoid bending over
Getting down on your knees in the dirt instead of bending over puts much less stress on your back and spine. Wear knee-pads for added comfort, or kneel on a folded towel. If you must bend over, limit the time spent in this position. Take stretch breaks regularly. To stretch, stand up, place your hands on your lower back and arch back slightly.
Change positions often
Staying in one position for too long can lead to strain on certain muscles and joints. Similarly, doing the same repetitive task for too long, such as shoveling or raking, can also cause soreness. To save your body, change positions frequently. When raking, or doing similar tasks, switch hands regularly to balance the muscles in your body. Also, take frequent breaks to give your muscles some rest. Injuries are less likely to occur when you’re fresh and not fatigued.
Recruit those muscles!
When lifting, carrying, shoveling, raking, squatting, and any other movement you do in the garden, activate your muscles to prevent injuries. For example, if you’re about to lift something heavy, recruit your abdominals by drawing your naval toward your spine before you lift. The muscles surrounding your spine can help prevent back injuries- but only if they are turned on.
Use good form
Just like in the gym, form is important in the garden. To lift an object, bend at the knees in either a squat position, or by kneeling on one leg. Carry objects close to your body to avoid excess load on your lower back. If you need to tackle a heavy object, ask someone to help you. When trimming, raking or digging, use your legs to move your body instead of bending and twisting at the waist. Finally, keep those well-trained abdominal muscles engaged to prevent back injuries.
Be sun savvy
While the warm sun is a welcomed change from our long winter, too much sun can be harmful. To protect yourself, wear sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat. Also, be sure to drink enough water. Keep a water bottle filled with ice water beside you and take sips during your rest breaks.
Cool down
Every day in the garden should begin with a warm up and end with a cool down. While you’re admiring your work in the garden, take a few minutes to stretch.
This spring, follow these tips to prevent aches and pains in the garden. I wish you many wonderful hours spent perfecting your backyard haven.
Tanja Shaw is the owner of Ascend Fitness Coaching, a private training studio. Tanja and her team of expert fitness professionals work to inspire and educate Chilliwack residents to make positive and power changes in their lives through physical fitness and sound nutrition. For more fitness tips go to www.ascendfitnesscoaching.com.

Download your FREE 7 Day Plan!

Listen to the Podcast!

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email