Don't let gardening be a pain in the back... or knees

As the sun comes out, so do our green thumbs. But gardening isn’t all soil and sunshine. It can be pretty tough on our bodies—particularly our knees and backs— thanks to prolonged kneeling and bending. But don’t put your spade and gloves away just yet. There are plenty of easy moves you can make to prevent injury while tending to your garden.

  • If you will be in a kneeling position for a while, show your knees some love. Use knee pads or cushions, and try to kneel on just one knee at a time, placing half of your weight through the opposite foot. This will also provide some counterbalance to the spine. 
  • Try to change positions as frequently as possible, especially if you are working in a small area for a period of time. Positions of prolonged bending or repetitive twisting can put a lot of stress on the discs in our spines. Use a small utility stool to sit on if possible. 
  • When digging larger areas, try to use your legs as much as possible in a stable squatting position. If you are digging a large area, change the direction that you are facing so that you are not straining the same area for a prolonged period of time. 
  • When removing tree roots or old plants, be sure to pull using your leg muscles instead of your back.
  • Squat down to pull weeds out of the ground instead of bending from the spine only. This might seem like a little thing, but repetitive motions like this can be tough on our spines.
  • Use a wheelbarrow or a cart to transport heavy plants and bags of dirt instead of carrying them.
  • Pace yourself and spread gardening tasks over a few days if you are not conditioned for manual labor.
  • Take frequent breaks to walk and stretch every 30 minutes.
  • Focus on back and thigh stretches:
    • Back extension stretch: Place your hands on your hips in a standing position and lean backwards until you feel a gentle stretch in your low back. Repeat 5 times holding for 10- 15 seconds.
    • Thigh stretch: Hold onto a nearby tree to stabilize yourself. Grab one foot, bend knee and bring heel towards buttocks until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds 3 times each side.

Enjoy watching your garden grow without pain!


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