Be Smart as You Garden

Be Smart as You Garden - Chiropractic Advice

The sun is shining, the air is fresh, and the outdoors is calling you. It’s finally time to garden!

Some of us are drawn to put our hands in the dirt and beautify the area around our home. And, some of us do yard work just to keep our neighbors from reporting us to neighborhood watch!

Either way, the tasks of gardening can be back breaking.

At Daniels Chiropractic we are here for you if you develop back and joint pain. But we’d love to help you prevent it instead. We have a plan to help you BE SMART as you garden. After a long winter and rainy spring it may be tempting to spend several hours tackling a big job outdoors.

But, here’s our first piece of advice:

Take It Easy

If you are not an avid exerciser then a day of gardening will move your muscles and joints in ways you are not ready for! So, go slow. Spend 30 minutes at first, then longer the next day. Work your way up to extended time.

Now, once you are out there, it’s a good idea to …

Vary Your Activity

If you have a ton of weeding to do, the last thing you should do is ONLY weed. If you spend a few hours, maybe even just an hour, bent over and down on your knees, you will likely regret it.

So, as hard as it may be to do, purpose to alternate tasks so that you can be upright every 15 minutes. Do some necessary weeding for 15 minutes, then walk around making a list of next steps, or plants to purchase, or maybe even watering or raking. Anything that you can do upright!

Just don’t pick another task that requires more bending over.

Alternating tasks helps avoid repetitive stress on the spine, joints, and muscles.

Try a New Technique

Next, consider using a kneeling pad every time you are down on the ground. And try to kneel on one knee while you work. The planted foot gives extra support to your back.

Another idea is a kneeling bench because it has both a pad for kneeling on and handles to lean on for support. And it turns into a bench for sitting for other gardening jobs.

Be Smart as You Garden - Chiropractic Advice


Get Better Tools

There are some innovative and ergonomic tools developed for easing the gardener’s job. As you can, invest in the ones that can help you the most. The more work that is done by the tool is effort not expended by your muscles and joints.

Here are a few of our favorites for saving your back:

  • Collapsing Wheelbarrow for ground-level loading
  • Wheeled Plant Dolly for moving heavy planters around after filling
  • Garden Seat and Kneeler as mentioned above
  • Stand Up Weed Remover. It’s a long-handled tool with a steel claw-pincher that ejects the weed once it’s pulled
  • Powered Garden Tiller for preparing a vegetable garden

Take Breaks

Not only should you alternate tasks, it’s smart gardening to take regular breaks.

Take a break every half hour in order to rest your joints and hydrate. Use the time to cool off inside, or walk around and dream about the next area you want to tackle.

Practice Good Posture

When you must bend down to garden, try not to round the back. Keep the spine as straight as possible and pivot at the hips.

When lifting, keep the spine straight so as to not fatigue the back muscles and joints. And whatever you do, don’t twist and bend at the same time. It’s a sure-fire way to get injured.

Use Good Body Mechanics

Along the same lines, it’s smart gardening to let the stronger parts of your body do the majority of the work. You want to use your hips, thighs, and knees smartly in order to save your lower back.

The way you do this is to bend your knees and lift objects right in front of you. Keep things close to your torso as you lift and carry them to save your shoulders and back, too. But, don’t lift things that you are unsure about. If it gives you pause because it may be too heavy for you, then don’t do it. Use a wheelbarrow, a dolly, or a friend who is stronger. It’s just not worth the risk of injury!

Also, be careful to not twist while doing garden work. For example, if you are digging with a shovel, then lift the dirt and then turn your entire body before depositing it. Your instinct will be to twist and drop the dirt but twisting while lifting loads stresses the back.

Finish Early

Unless you injure yourself, you probably won’t feel sore until after you’re done for the day.

So, our last piece of advice is this: quit while you’re ahead. You will likely feel some soreness if this is your first foray out or if you spend a long time gardening. It’s smart to quit before you do just one more thing.

If you realize you have overdone it, then rest your body and ice any painful spots. After 48 hours switch to heat and begin gentle stretches. If you don’t improve soon, then come see us.

Come See Us

When you come into Daniels Chiropractic for care we want to help you get better. Our desire is to help you feel, move, and live better.

Give us a call at 262-638-999 to make an appointment.

Daniels Chiropractic Office

2609 Rapids Drive
Racine, WI 53404
Phone: 262.638.9999
Fax: 262.638.0742