Maintaining a garden is a process that combines relaxation and effort. Although it requires a significant amount of hard work, you’re also able to enjoy working outdoors and admire the final result as well. But for gardeners with back problems – the most common chronic health problem in our country – that effort is sometimes difficult to sustain. Read our tips on how to protect your back when gardening.
Just like athletes warm-up before extensive training, do some movement and stretching exercises before reaching for the spade or rake. And take it easy. Save the heavy work for later when your muscles are well warmed. Make sure to layer clothing on your back, particularly on cold days.
2. Pay attention to the correct working posture
People with back problems probably know the dos and don’ts. Here we list them again, especially concerning garden jobs.
- Keep your back straight. Do not bend your back, instead bend your knees.
- Move your entire body rather than turning your back.
- Use a bench to work instead of working on your knees.
- Utilize the strength of your arms when lifting a wheelbarrow. Avoid putting pressure on your back.
- And ensure variety in the work, because performing the same movements for a long time is extra stressful.
3. Make your garden back-friendly
A back-friendly garden is a low-maintenance garden. But, that doesn’t mean you have to get it all paved. Some smart adjustments go a long way.
- Little to no bare spots means fewer weeds. Mulching helps to inhibit weed growth and prevents dehydration of the soil, so you won’t have to water as often.
- No lawn saves you the job of mowing.
- Raised borders reduce the amount of bending. If you keep them narrow, you don’t have to reach too far when weeding weeds or doing other chores.
4. Work with good equipment
By ‘good’, we mean ergonomically convenient: tools that make the work less stressful. A few tips:
- Keep all your equipment sharp and clean, so that the work does not require unnecessary effort and time.
- Use tools with a sufficiently long handle that you can always work with while maintaining a straight back.
- Install an automatic watering system, or if you use a garden hose, choose one with a roller system or a hose trolley.
- Use good quality pruning shears and loppers. The better models have ergonomic details, such as a rotating handle or rack and pinion transmission, which help to relieve the muscles of your arm, shoulder and back.
- Tools made of light material such as carbon, plastic or aluminium, work more comfortably and are less stressful.