Low back pain is very common in the spring and summer months as avid gardeners spend much of their time bent over digging in the dirt. Cutting your day short because your low back hurts is very frustrating. Furthermore, the growing season can be short, so having low back pain during a short growing season can feel disheartening. In this post, I will discuss how to prevent low back pain when gardening so you can carry on planting perennials and picking weeds.
Digging, lifting, and bending over for long periods of time are something you likely aren’t doing on a regular basis throughout winter. By the time spring comes along you may not be in good enough shape for gardening. The extra stress in your spine, muscles and nerves will eventually cause an injury to your low back. So one of the key solutions to prevent low back pain when gardening is to be more active and sit less in the winter.
Move more and sit less to prevent low back pain
I’m a generalist when it comes to exercise. My experience has shown when my patients are more active, regardless of the type of exercise, they get less recurrent low back pain. So my advice is to pick an activity you would enjoy doing and start doing it regularly. Some samples could be walking, running, weight training, yoga, hockey, racket sports, dancing, biking, etc. In saying that, here are four key exercises you can do to help you prepare for the gardening season:
If you search on the internet for ‘primal blueprint fitness book’ (Mark’s Daily Apple) you can download a free e-book regarding how to progress with these exercises safely. These exercises take 10-30 minutes to do twice per week. The e-book also recommends regular slow moving exercise, play, and sprinting.
As well, sitting for prolonged periods of time at work is a major cause of low back pain. To help counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting you will have to stand up more and move around. Below are a couple of articles I wrote on this subject matter:
Regular chiropractic care helps prevent low back pain when gardening
Because most of us are sedentary and are overwhelmed with mental stress, it’s no wonder our nerves and muscles get tense. Our brain’s become wired and adapt to maintain this stress. So more tension builds in our nerves and muscles around our spine. Bones in the spine become misaligned. Our posture changes and becomes misaligned. Eventually, the tension in our nerves and muscles build up so much we reach a breaking point – wham! – and we get acute low back pain.
Getting your spine checked for misalignments before you get acute low back is a key strategy to help prevent low back pain when gardening. Correcting the misalignments in your spine with chiropractic adjustments helps rewire your brain and nervous system so you’re not in a stuck state of tension and stress. It’s like rebooting your computer so it runs better.
A good study, done in 2018, showed regular chiropractic care can help prevent low back pain. (1)
You can read more about the importance of regular spinal check-ups and chiropractic care here.
Being body aware and changing tasks to prevent low back pain when gardening
One strategy I use to prevent low back pain while gardening is being body aware and changing tasks. For example, if I’m stooped over weeding for a long time and feel that my low back is getting tense I might move on to a different activity such as pruning. That way I’m standing and moving around more. Maybe I have to climb a ladder to prune. Regardless, this forces me to change positions and take the stress off of my lower back.
What to do if you get low back pain
I’m an avid gardener so I understand that getting in the zone and losing track of time is part of being passionate about gardening. Sometimes getting low back pain while gardening is unavoidable. When I do get low back pain, I will do some light stretching such as these:
Finding the underlying cause of low back pain is key to long-term relief versus masking your symptoms with drugs. The most common cause of low back pain come from the pain-sensitive nerve structures of the spine. The pain-sensitive nerve structures of the spine include muscles, nerves, joints, and discs (shock absorbers between the spinal bones).
Chiropractors are specialists in identifying the underlying cause of low back pain related to the muscles, nerves, joints, and discs. As mentioned above, tension builds up in these structures and by adjusting spinal misalignments, you can release that tension which is very effective for relieving low back pain.
So if you get low back pain while gardening make sure you book an appointment with your chiropractor as soon as possible.
Getting your spine in good shape is key to preventing low back pain when gardening. Sitting less and becoming more active in the winter months helps prevent low back pain when gardening. As well, getting regular chiropractic adjustments is also important in keeping your spine and nerves healthy so you’re not struggling with low back pain during the gardening season.
I love gardening. And if you’re reading this article you probably love gardening as well. Life is short and where I live so is the gardening season. Don’t let your gardening season get ruined because of low back pain. Be proactive. Stay active during the winter months and go see your chiropractor on a regular basis so you can keep playing in the dirt!
To learn more about how chiropractic care can help you and your family read our ultimate guide to chiropractic care: Chiropractic Care for Everyone