Gardening and yard work are among the top causes listed by our patients for their back pain this time of year. Here are a few tips from our Tulsa Chiropractor"s resident gardening expert (and chiropractic assistant wife) for preventing pain while still enjoying your time outside:
1. When hand weeding, it is best to do it on your hands and knees. Stooping, bending and twisting are surefire ways to trigger back and neck pain.
2. Use proper handle length for your size. If you are short, like me, a shovel or rake with a very long handle puts your spine in an awkward position. Each gardener in the family will probably need their own set of tools.
3. Make sure power tools like hedge trimmers and leaf blowers are not too heavy for you. Since you carry these tools at mid-back height, that's where you'll hurt if the device is too heavy. I've been investing in battery-operated versions of weedeaters and blowers and such, which allows me to help my undergardener with chores that only he could perform previously. A win for both of us!
4. Take some breaks. Weeding for hours at a stretch, even on your hands and knees, will cause some tight and sore muscles. Take water breaks and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings for a few minutes while you give your back a break!
5. Try to use a garden cart, the kids' wagon, or a little garden trailer to haul things around the yard that you would usually just carry. Bags of mulch that weigh 40 lbs or so don't seem impossible to carry, until you begin moving a large quantity of them!
6. Load your garden tools into the same cart to transport them to the area where you'll be working, especially if you have several areas around the yard to drag all your tools to that day.
7. Sharpen your tools at the beginning of the season. A sharp edge on your shovel makes a huge difference in the effort needed to dig a hole.
8. If you need to move something that is very heavy like a tree stump, logs, boulders, etc. put them in your garden cart or drag them behind the garden tractor with a chain. Lifting jobs in the garden are the usual culprits for back pain.
9. When you come in from gardening, an Epsom salt bath will help ease muscle pain.
Hope these tips help you enjoy gardening a little more, while saving your back! I can assure you that Dr Cole has LOTS of experience adjusting sore joints caused by gardening, so give us a call at our Tulsa Chiropractic office for an appointment!