Ask A Pro

Q

I’ve noticed my back start to ache after doing several hours of gardening. What can I do?

 
A

Maintaining correct posture and body mechanics with gardening is crucial for preventing or minimizing back problems. Assess your work space, posture, and movement patterns with your gardening activities. Avoid prolonged stooping, bending, or lifting with all tasks. Using a stool or small bench to sit on can help to prevent excessive bending at the waist with weeding or planting activities. Additionally, if you are doing a fair amount of kneeling, use of knee pads or a cushion can decrease knee, hip, or lower back pain. Avoiding prolonged overhead activities will also help to decrease shoulder, neck, and low back discomfort. If you are doing any lifting or carrying, always remember to keep the load directly in front of you and close to your body. As a general rule, you always want to avoid bending and twisting with your back while holding the load, which means, you must move your feet. It is also wise to frequently (every 20-30 min.) change your gardening activity in order to prevent being in one position for a prolonged time. If you must work in one position for some time, make sure to take stretch breaks approximately every 20 min. in order to give your back a break. If your back pain persists or worsens, make sure to consult with your doctor or physical therapist.

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