Gardening Tips for Low Back Pain Management
With the change of seasons, we find ourselves tackling our gardens ready for summer time.
Even though gardening is not considered as a sport it is very physical and time consuming, resulting in the body being in the same position for long periods of time.
Gardening involves a lot of forwarding bending and at times can result in us twisting ourselves into awkward positions.
These can result in spinal and surrounding structures to be strained and therefore resulting in back pain.
We have put together some helpful tips for you to incorporate into your gardening regime in order to prevent or manage any low back pain you may experience due to gardening.
Warm up First
It is a good idea to warm the muscles up first prior to gardening, as you would with any other type of work out. This could be a brisk 5 minute walk with or without some gentle stretching. Below is a few stretches that will help to loosen the low back ready for gardening.
If you already suffer with low back pain we would advise that you speak with your Chiropractor or healthcare practitioner in order for them to advise you on what stretches would be most appropriate for you.
Incorrect lifting technique is a common trigger for low back pain. Even more so when you have been gardening for a long period and make a sudden movement.
To lift correctly, begin by squatting and not bending the waist. Use both hands to hold object, keeping it close to your body and slowly straighten legs as you lift.
Try to limit the amount of lifting you do by either using lifting aids or asking someone to help.
Another tip would be to half your lifting load, such as putting half the soil into a bucket to carry or half the water in a watering can.
Take regular breaks
Be conscious to keep a track of time, and don't stay in the same position. Get up and move around, try some light stretches and try out different positions.
Try to avoid carrying out the same job for a long period of time. Switch between jobs so that you are alternating your posture set ups.
Use support aids
Try to use support aids to make you feel more comfortable such as chairs or cushions. Getting up and down from positions, especially up from the ground, can be a difficult task so use aids to help you alter your height.
Use correct equipment
It is worth investing into the correct gardening equipment for your needs. As these will aid you and prevent you from over compensating in order to get the job down e.g long handed tools can help to eliminate bending.
Ask for help
Do not be afraid to ask family, friends, neighbors etc for help. If a task is is too much for one person or you are suffering with any discomfort as someone to help or take over. It is important to understand your own limitations.
If you are experiencing some pain following a gardening session then the following may be useful:
- PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compress and elevate).
- Find your pain free movements and try to avoid any painful movements.
- NSAIDS, over counter pain killers (always read label).
- Use support aids.
The above listed are not conclusive to the type of pain, and you may find that you do not fit into a particular area. Therefore it is important to seek professional health if you are experiencing pain.
See your Chiropractor if you are in pain
Chiropractors specialise in assessing, diagnosing and managing conditions of the spine. They are highly trained in finding the cause of pain in the spine. In the UK they undergo a minimum of four years’ full-time training. Importantly, chiropractors are regulated by law and must work within strict professional and ethical boundaries.
Before starting treatment, a chiropractor will do a full assessment. This will involve taking details about your condition, current health and medical history, and performing a physical examination. Sometimes it may be necessary to refer you for other tests, such as X-rays, MRI scans or blood tests. It is important for your chiropractor to gather as much information about your back pain as possible so that the most precise diagnosis can be made.
Your chiropractor will then explain what is wrong, what can be done and what you can expect from chiropractic treatment.
Chiropractors are best known for manual treatments such as spinal manipulation, where they use their hands to free stiff or restricted joints, or mobilisation, which is the gradual moving of joints.
But they may also use other recommended treatments such as certain types of acupuncture, electrotherapy, stretching exercises and rehabilitation, all of which form part of a chiropractor’s package of care. Your chiropractor may also offer lifestyle advice to help recovery and to prevent repeated episodes of back pain.
If your chiropractor does not think you can be helped by chiropractic treatment, you may be referred back to your GP or to another health professional. Chiropractors do not prescribe medication, so if this is needed, you may be referred back to your GP. As chiropractors support a joined-up approach to care, they may ask if they can send a brief report to your GP.
Many people who suffer long-term back pain benefit from regular, supportive chiropractic care to reduce the risk of recurrent episodes.