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Spring is here and along with the return of warmer temps, many enjoy the return of outdoor activities. Gardening has always been a soothing hobby for individuals of all ages, including seniors. However, according to the 2021 National Gardening Survey, the covid-19 pandemic created 18.3 new gardeners in the United States. Now, 55% of American households engage in home gardening activities.
With the popularity of gardening skyrocketing, especially for those in the 35-64 age range, we thought it would be helpful to offer some tips on keeping back pain at bay. While gardening is known to improve mobility, it can also cause soreness or pain, if improper positions or techniques are being used. Here are some key points to consider, that will help protect your body while gardening.
5 Tips To Keep Back Pain Away During Gardening
Long periods of time being hunched or in a crouching position, can place strain on your body, resulting in pain. Experiencing back soreness or pain is not uncommon following a long day of gardening. However, with the following creative tweaks, you can minimize the likelihood of back pain or injury:
1. Take It Easy-
Just like walking or biking, gardening is exercise. Taking a few minutes to stretch and “warm-up” is a way to get your blood flowing and prepare muscles for activity. If you’ve experienced back pain before, it is advised to receive clearance from a physician before beginning any new form of exercise, including gardening. You should also schedule frequent breaks, so you don’t remain in the same position for too long. Regularly switching up your gardening tasks will also alleviate repetitive motions or positions. If you begin to feel stiff or sore, take a few minutes to relax and stretch before resuming.
2. Support Yourself-
Moving bags of soil or heavy pots can place unnecessary strain on your back. Always be sure to bend at the hips, with your knees positioned in a squat stance, keeping your back straight and engaging your core. If an item is too heavy, it may injure muscles or ligaments. In this case, a wagon or dolly may be needed, to avoid back injury.
3. Consider Specialty Tools-
There are several products available that can help maximize time and comfort in the garden. A gardening wagon or scooter can help position you into more of a seated stance, instead of bending over or squatting all day. Similarly, you may want to incorporate foam kneeling pads to provide extra cushion to knee joints.
4. Stand and Garden-
A popular trend is vertical gardening, which features planting up from the ground. If it is painful to bend over, this may be a better option as you can tend to your garden while standing. There are various wooden or metal structures that can be used to form a simple, or elaborate, vertical garden. Another option is raised bed gardening, which is most commonly used for growing vegetables and herbs. The beds are raised off the ground and can be tended to while standing, as well as being wheelchair accessible.
5. Scale Back-
This tip probably goes without saying, but if gardening is causing you back pain, it may be time to scale back. Perhaps you decrease the size of your garden, or begin to delegate some tasks to someone else. You can also move your favorite flowers, plants or vegetables to a smaller, contained space, to decrease the amount of time and physical effort required, but still enjoy your favorite vegetation.
What to do if you have back pain after gardening
Gardening is an excellent low-impact exercise, that appeals to people of all ages looking to stay active. However, if a long day of gardening has resulted in pain, stiffness, or sore muscles, there are a few at-home remedies that may help.
At the first sign of back pain, you should listen to your body, and rest. It is possible to overexert yourself while gardening, so taking a few days off to relax and recharge, is recommended. This will ensure that a small ache doesn’t turn into more intense pain or injury.
If you are experiencing swelling, a cold compress will help to address inflammation. A hot compress is advised when blood flow is needed to relax aching muscles. Some find back pain relief from switching between both a cold and hot compress, throughout the day. Over-the-counter pain relievers will also help to alleviate temporary pain associated with gardening.
Georgia Pain and Spine Care is here to help!
If at-home solutions do not improve your back pain, it may be time to meet with a specialist. At Georgia Pain and Spine Care, we will assess and address the pain you are experiencing. We offer a variety of treatment options, including multiple minimally-invasive procedures, as well as physical therapy, medication, and patient education, to ease discomfort. Reach out today to learn more, or to schedule an appointment. We’ll have you gardening again in no time!