5 Tips to help Gardeners with LOW BACK ISSUES

There are 2 type of people in the world, those who love gardening and those who don’t. Now if you are one of those people who are still reading this blog, BUT if you are a gardener with low back issues, then you don’t want to be put into the group that hates gardening because it aggravates your lower back.

We are looking at 5 things to focus on that may help you to spend more time in the garden, doing what you love, gardening. With more people home during the corona virus lockdown, we are finding more people are gardening than ever.

These 5 things will help to minimise lower back pain and hopefully minimise aggravations. They will give you a chance to be out in the fresh air, exercising and further benefiting from the delights of being surrounded by colour and edible produce, such as fruit and vegetables.

1.Warm up and stretch

It is important to minimise any lower back aggravation and warming up for 5-10 minutes can help gardeners with low back pain. To warm up you could go for a brisk walk, do 20 squats, or jog on the spot. This will get your blood pumping through your muscles and help to get them to warm up, minimising strains and pulls.

Stretching can include some gentle spinal bends forwards and backwards, side bends and spinal twisting. Do them gently and aim to do 3-5 of each stretch.

If you are gardening in cold or damp weather, keep the lower back warm by layering up. A vest helps to keep arms free of thick clothing, but provides warmth for the lower back area.

2. Use veggie boxes

Elevated boxes can add aesthetic value to your garden as well as being practical. We have several in our garden and they are used for herbs, vegetables and for non edible plants too. The advantage of the higher work area means you do not have to bend over to tend to your garden. It’s easy to use a small garden tool to keep the weeds at bay. Picking the produce is much easier too as they are off the ground.

What wood should you use: Try and make the boxes out of used timber and avoid any treated wood. Find a wood that is a hard wood and doesn’t rot with moisture. We used red wood for our garden boxes.

3. Espalier fruit trees

Limited space in your garden and ease of picking are a couple of features of using this method of growing fruit trees. They are lovely to look at and are when it’s time to pick the fruit then you won’t need to climb up a ladder or over reach. They take a bit of effort to train along the wire or what ever you use, but they are worth the effort.

4. Use a table to prepare seedlings

When planting seeds into pots or replanting it helps your low back to use a table or bench to do this work. This will ensure you are not bending over and doing this work on the ground.

5. Bend from hips or use a knee pad to get to ground

Weeds are an inevitable part of most gardens. One way to deal with weeds is to use pea straw or wood chips. To reduce weeds and to also reduce water evaporation your veggie patch will love pea straw.

Lastly, if you do need to weed, then try to bend from the hip, squat or kneel on a knee pad. It does depend how long you are weeding for. If there is a lot of weeding to do, the best way to spare your lower back is to only do 15-20 minutes of weeding at a time. Alternating weeding with other jobs in the garden is advisable.

Remember to stop any gardening if you feel that your lower back is too painful, and seek appropriate advice from your local chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist.

Here are a couple of links you may be interested in if you are a gardener with low back pain:

  • Sciatica relief with these exercises, CLICK HERE.
  • How to find out what your core muscles are and how you can find out if your core is switching on. CLICK HERE.

Dr. Lisa Smycz chiropractor

Errol Street Chiropractic, North Melbourne

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