Gardening – It’s still a workout! How to avoid low back pain and knee pain

As the sun comes out, so do our green fingers. But gardening isn’t all soil and sunshine. It can be hard going on our bodies—particularly for low back pain and knee pain— thanks to prolonged kneeling, bending and lack of preparation. 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.

Love your knees and they will love you back – If you will be in a kneeling position for a while use knee pads or cushions, and try to kneel on just one knee at a time, placing half ofyour weight through the opposite foot. This will also provide some counterbalance to the spine.

Prepare to garden! You’re body doesn’t know it’s not having a gym workout – it just knows it’s working. Warm up with some stretches before you start. Even better, prepare to garden by doing some core exercise, including squats and lunges as these movements are used a lot with gardening.

When possible change position as frequently as possible.  Special care needs to be taken if you are working in a small area for a period of time. 

Prolonged bending or repetitive twisting can put a lot of stress on your discs. 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 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 large roots 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 pulling from a bent spine position can cause a very painful disc bulge.

Use a wheelbarrow to move heavy plants and bags of dirt instead of carrying them.

If you have a lot of potting to do, use your garden table. It will save you bending and save your back!

Pace yourself and spread gardening tasks over a few days if you are not conditioned for manual labour.

Don’t forget to keep hydrated and use sun screen, even when overcast.

Enjoy watching your garden grow without pain! For any advice on core workout or injury prevention speak to your osteopath – give us a call 020 3589 8664

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