Gardening: How to avoid Back Pain and improve your posture
Finally, spring has come! It´s the perfect time to enjoy your garden. Gardening isn’t an official sport (yet =) ), it brings a lot of benefits for your physical and mental health. On the other hand, it can cause injuries to your spine, joints or muscles, when is not performed correctly or when you don´t take care of your posture. But don´t worry, here are some tips to avoid injuries and improve your posture while enjoying gardening.
Why should I have a garden?
People describe having a garden as having your own oasis. It is a place to relax, it doesn´t matter the size (1m2 or a garden of 600 m2) or how many plants, flowers or vegetables you have, it´s all related to the relaxing, cozy and warming sensation nature makes you feel.
If you are knew at gardening or need inspiration, you can visit some of the Top RHS gardens such as: Wisley, Harlow Carr, Linlathen, Warren house and more to
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), from 1st to 7th May, is raising awareness about the multiple benefits of gardening, maybe that is one of the reasons why your Majesty King Charles the III is fan of it!
What are the benefits of gardening?
As I mention before, Gardening has benefits for your physical and metal health some of them are:
Reduces risks of:
- heart disease
- and depression
- reduces stress and anxiety
- improves balance, as a result prevents fall
- improves your mood
- raises your self-esteem
What does having a good posture means?
Probably, when you were a child, a grown up (mom or dad, aunty, etc.) told you to stand up straight , that´s why, today, you may think that a straight position is a good posture. However, your spine is not straight and nor should be. Human evolution gives us a functionally curved spine. For this reason, keeping the natural curves of your spine while working (or any activity you like, in this case Gardening) is one of the keys to avoid back or neck pain.
What are the consequences of having poor posture while gardening?
The royal society for the prevention of accidents (RoSPA) states 300,000 people including children are seriously hurt when gardening and require hospital treatment per year. Some of the Injuries to the musculoskeletal system can include:
- Disc bulges.
Besides poor posture can cause other symptoms including:
- Shallow breathing (which can lead to anxiety and panic attacks)
- Tension headaches
- Memory problems
How can I avoid injuries from gardening?
- Warm before it! Yep, it is not an official sport, but it´s a demanding physical activity. As in many sports, during it you lift heavy things, pull, push, dig, etc., so your muscles (and entire body) workout.
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, something flexible that allows you move freely.
- Organise your gardening schedule, not everything needs to be done on the first day.
- Alternate jobs. The body should not be kept in one position for too long, for example, crouching down weeding so changing between jobs will help keep the body moving and prevent irritation.
- Look after your knees while weeding, bending or digging. A good option is to use a knee pad so your knees will not have too much pressure on them.
- Use raised or hanging planters so you will avoid kneeing.
- Use the correct tools, each tool is designed for specific jobs.
- Make sure you stay hydrated. It is important to keep the body working in an efficient manner. During hotter days you need to take more drink breaks.
The Human Performance Resource Centre (HPRC) has stated that ‘even minimal dehydration can increase strain on the cardiovascular system. This can compromise exercise performance which can, in turn, increase the chance of injury.
Take care of your posture
- Know your limits. Using your knees and tensing your core without twisting will reduce the chance of injury.
- Stretch before and after gardening.
- To move your torso forward, hinge from your hips. This way, you won’t round your spine or over extend your arms, (use this position when bending over, reaching something or pruning, etc.).
- Use your legs to lift things (specially heavy ones)while maintaining your back straight and shoulders relaxed.
- To carry loads, keep your sides balanced (equalased loads). You can also alternate between your dominant and less dominant side when doing repetitive motions.
- Keep your tools close to your body and lean from your center. For example, feel that the tool is being moved by your center, rather than just your arms. Lean the weight of your whole body into your scissors (or any other toll), rather than just your foot.
We hope these tips will help you have a healthy spine or alleviate many of the annoying symptoms you may have after gardening, as well as make you stronger and healthier throughout your entire body. Enjoy gardening, water your plants with love. Finally, if you want to share your gardening experience, you can do it in the social media, use the hashtag #nationalgardeningweek. You never know if you will become the next gardening queen or king!
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