Gardening is the most common cause of back and neck pain during warm weather season. That’s what nine out of ten chiropractors say, according to the Ontario Chiropractic Association. They find improper gardening techniques make this prime time for degenerative joint and disk problems, muscle sprains and strains, especially in the lower back, and repetitive strain injuries of the wrist and elbow.
Here’s what they advise:
• Warm Up – Gardening is hard work! Make sure to stretch your thighs, shoulders, sides, arms, back and hamstrings before you start.
• Alternate – from heavy tasks to light ones, and change your hands and positions frequently.
• Lift Right – Always bend with your knees and keep a straight back. Carry the load close to your body.
• Kneel to Plant – Knee pads or a kneeling mat can help to ease the strain on your back while you plant and weed your garden. Keep a straight back and stop when you need to have a break.
• Rake Right – Put one leg in front and another behind when you rake, and alternate on occasion to minimize the back strain.
• Use the right tools, that are the right size for you. The chiropractors suggest a hose instead of a watering can, a lightweight wheelbarrow to move heavy loads and long-handled, light-weight tools to avoid bending and twisting.
Finally, pace yourself, take about three short breaks every hour and make sure to stay hydrated.