Gardening With Back Pain

With gardening season in full swing, it’s the perfect time to share a few tips to help prevent back pain. Gardening can be great exercise, meaning it might actually help prevent or alleviate back pain when done correctly. 

Benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Helps reduce the frequency or severity of flare-ups in your pain
  • Keeps the spine both functional and mobile
  • Burns calories to help you maintain a healthy weight
  • Produces endorphins (nature’s painkillers) to elevate your mood and fight depression

Keep reading for several tips on gardening with back pain.

Warm Up

Some gardening activities can be considered vigorous exercise. Think raking, mowing, lugging around large bags of mulch, etc. That’s why a quick 5-minute walk followed by some light stretching is recommended before beginning.

Lift Carefully

Gardening requires you to lift quite a few heavy objects, from full-grown bushes to filled watering cans. Make sure you are using the proper lifting technique. Begin by squatting instead of bending at the waist, grip the item with both hands, hold it close to your body, and slowly straighten your legs as you lift.

If possible, minimize the need to lift heavy objects by using a wagon or dolly, or even by just filling the watering can halfway. And remember, you can always ask a loved one for help if your doctor has instructed you to refrain from lifting heavy objects or if you think it would be a bad idea. 

Switch Tasks

Focusing on just one gardening task for hours has the potential to cause even the healthiest person pain. When creating your to-do list for the day, opt to work on a few different tasks rather than just one. Switching between tasks like planting, weeding, mulching, and watering keeps your muscles guessing and can help prevent back pain.

Take Frequent Breaks

Another great idea while gardening with back pain is to take frequent breaks. Bring a water bottle outside with you to hydrate yourself on the breaks. And if you’ve been in the same position for awhile, consider stretching.

Use A Kneeler/Chair

Getting onto the ground and back up again can be painful for those experiencing back pain. We recommend the use of cushioned kneelers or low chairs to help prevent pain. Many kneelers have handles to help you push yourself back into the standing position, while alleviating stress on your knees and back with their cushioned bases.

You can also consider more creative solutions like raising your flower beds 2-3 feet above the ground or keeping your plants in containers at waist height.

We hope the tips above will help those trying to garden with back pain this year. And remember, if you or a loved one is experiencing chronic back pain, we urge you to seek professional medical attention.

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Nebraska Spine Hospital

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