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How to Reduce Back Pain From Gardening and Yard Work (by a Chiropractor)

Couple gardening

Many people incorporate gardening and yard work into their lives seeing it as a form of therapy. Lots of people take pride in the work they do when it comes to their yards.

Yard work seems rather simple and easy when you look at it from the surface, but much yard work takes lots of strength, endurance and one must understand body mechanics. Improper body mechanics causes one who may engage in gardening and yard work to bring more harm to the body than good to the yard.

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How is Back Pain Associated With Yard Work?

Back pain is associated with yard work and gardening because there are many cases where that area of work causes one to then experience that type of pain. Whether lower back pain, upper back pain or middle pain, yard work can cause back pain and in some cases, it can be intense.

It’s important to know how to move your body when working in the yard. It’s also important to know how to bend over and when to bend and when to crouch, when to use your hands and when to use your feet, and when to take a break and when it’s ok to keep working.

The weather outside can also play a part regarding pain in the body. If one is affected by arthritis or any other medical condition, or simply aging, the weather should be monitored and gloves should be worn to protect fragile skin or hands prone to aching, cold air and/or pain from much movement.

Anyone can garden and just about anyone can engage in yard work but there are precautions that should be taken. Not taking certain precautions could leave one in a vulnerable state.

Is Gardening Good For My Back?

While gardening and yard work can take a negative toll on the back, it doesn’t have to studies say.

It may not necessarily be good for the back when one is especially already dealing with chronic back pain, but with proper body mechanics, the back can be better protected.

There are tips you can follow to be sure you’re doing your best to prevent those backaches and pains while gardening.

Three Tips to Prevent Back Pain from Gardening

Tips illustration

1. Body Mechanics

There is much bending, leaning, reaching, crouching and sometimes even squatting that takes place when one is engaging in yard work. It’s very important to be sure you understand proper body mechanics prior to doing anything that could be straining in the yard.

When bending over you want to be sure you aren’t using your back more than you’re using your legs and strength from your legs. You place less strain on your back when you bend your knees slightly when bending over. Many times it’s simply best to squat when reaching for something that’s maybe below you and not at eye level or above you.

When you’re seeking to pick something up from the ground that may require some extra strength, you’ll always want to squat down and keep your back as straight as possible while using all legs to pick it up.

To keep the strain from coming upon the body when reaching for things when you’re in a fixed position, be sure all is within reach and not too far away causing you to place more effort into reaching and bending than the actual work being done to the garden or yard.

2. Use Tools

When gardening and doing yard work it’s easy to get caught up in using your hands for those who may be more experienced. Using tools may take too much time to get the job done in some cases, but don’t despise the using of tools.

Using tools will keep you from placing extra strain on your body and back. The use of your hands along with the pulling and tugging and digging that goes with yard work, causes there to be more of a drastic pull on the joints and muscles being called on. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to get rid of back pain.

There are many tools that one should consider using while gardening. Whether you use a wheelbarrow to carry things from one side of the yard to the other, or a simple bench for the garden keeping you from having to squat as much. Or maybe you want to use a digging shovel meant for digging versus using your hands to try and make it go by slightly quicker. Using a shovel will place less strain on your hands, especially if arthritis is an issue.

3. Pace yourself

Gardening can bring a sense of peace and it can also bring about extra stress to the body. Take your time and don’t try to get everything done at one time.

Take time to rest in between tasks and in between certain parts of the yard. Be sure to stay hydrated and not overdo it.

Don’t give in to any pressure pushing you to hurry and get it done in one day, or in one sitting. Gardening can take time and in some cases, it can take a week or more to complete certain tasks. A professional chiropractor for back pain can also help.

Are There Any Tools That Are Easy on The Back?

Tools seem pretty basic and for some, it’s not always made aware that there are ergonomic tools that make it easy for those with arthritis, or tools that make it easier on the backs of those dealing with chronic back pain.

According to The Family Handyman, there are some tools that make it easier to do yard work and keep the back safe.

Two of these tools include:

  1. Wheeled plant dolly – For those who are looking to reduce pain while engaging in yard work, this is a great tool. The wheels on this tool prevent too much lifting or strain from taking place, replacing the lifting and pulling with easy pushing and easy transfers.
  2. Weeder – This tool helps those who need not place more strain on the back by pulling weeds, instead using this tool to pull the weeds for them. The handles on some are longer, keeping you from excess bending. You don’t have to reach down to pull the weeds out of the tool. There is an eject option on these tools that enables you to release the weeds without using your hands.

Happy Gardening!

By Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998 and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief and is highly considered as the best-rated chiropractic clinic in Anchorage.

Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.