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. For some gardeners, the growing season can be short, so having low back pain during a short growing season can feel disheartening. Preventing low back pain becomes key 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 and tension in your spine, muscles and nerves will eventually cause an injury. So one of the key solutions to prevent low back pain when gardening is to be more active in the Winter.
Move More and Less Sitting
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. It could be walking, running, weight training, yoga, hockey, racket sports, dancing, biking, etc. So my advice is to pick an activity you would enjoy doing and start doing it regularly. 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’ 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.
I have also written a couple of articles on how you can incorporate more movement at work to help strengthen your back:
One of the key solutions to prevent low back pain when gardening is to be more active in the Winter
Get Regular Spinal Check-ups and Chiropractic Adjustments
In our modern day world where most of us are sitting all day and are overwhelmed with mental stress, it’s no wonder our muscles get tense. Our brain’s become wired and adapt to maintain this stress. Tension builds in the nerves and muscles around the spine. Bones in the spine become misaligned. Our posture changes and becomes misaligned. Eventually, the tension builds up and “wham!” you get low back pain.
Getting your spine checked for misalignments before you get acute low back is key 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)
Getting your spine checked for misalignments before you get acute low back is key to help prevent low back pain when gardening
I wrote about the importance of getting regular spinal check-ups and chiropractic adjustments in the following articles:
Stretching and Taking Breaks
Sometimes getting low back pain while gardening is unavoidable. 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. One strategy I use is being body aware while I’m working. If I’m stooped over weeding for a long time and feel that my low back is getting tense and a bit sore I might go onto 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.
When I do get low back pain, I will do some light stretching such as these:
What if you do get low back pain?
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.
I hope this gives you some strategies to help you prevent low back pain while gardening and for you to deal with low back pain so you can back to playing in the dirt quickly.