Written by Mel Davis, associate working at Back 2 Balance chiropractic clinic in Hove, gives her advice to help you prevent back pain when gardening.

As spring approaches (hopefully!) what we find as chiropractors, is that we tend to get busier with more gardening based injuries, especially lower back pain. The most common reason sited is that someone will spend most of the winter indoors with reduced exercise/movement habits…then when it gets warmer and the light gets brighter we do what flowers do and start coming out.
The only problem with this scenario is that the body throughout the course of the winter has become a little de-conditioned, the muscles have become smaller and weaker. So someone will go out into the garden and decide to pull up a tree or spend the day potting plants/clearing compost etc. These activities, for a de-conditioned back, is dangerous as it overloads those spinal joints which have less protection due to weaker spinal muscles. Then of course the proverbial ‘back goes’ and back pain results.

So what do us chiropractors advise our clients to do to prevent back pain when gardening?

Warm up before you start gardening! This can be achieved with brisk walking, marching up and down on the spot, rotating the shoulders back and forth. Generally you want your muscles to be warm and switched on. Don’t focus on stretching…focus more on muscle movements you would use during gardening. This can be said for any physical hobby you decide to do.

The next big mistake most people make whilst gardening is not keeping the back straight. You must AT ALL TIMES keep your lower back straight. Let your hips/thighs/knees do the work, NOT your back. You want to be able to feel a dull ache in your thighs as you’re continually activating those quadricep muscles. You want to feel your gluteal (bum) muscles switching on. Imagine a corset around your middle (which is what your spinal muscles, along with your abdominal muscles, actually are)…as if you had one of those 19th century corsets on…you would have no choice but to use your legs and not bend your lower back. Imagine how much stronger your knees/thighs and bum muscles will be as a result.

So just remember…spring time is a busy time for us here at Back 2 Balance Chiropractic Clinic because of post winter gardening. BE CAREFUL! Make sure you look after yourselves before going outside and please prevent any back pain when gardening 🙂
Prevention is always better than cure!

What are your gardening related injuries? Any funny ones? Please post them below. Alternatively, have any of you found other tips to allow you do all the gardening you want?