Gardening season approaches

gardening back pain

I know with storm Imogen currently sweeping us off our feet the gardening season and warmer weather seems as far away as ever but it is only around 1 month now till the allotments start filling up with hideous postures sustained for a whole weekend and then people wondering why they have back pain on a Monday! So I’m giving a little bit of advice here for the green fingered among you with some tips and exercises.

Firstly if your winter has consisted of significantly less physical activity than the warmer months start doing some exercises now to build your fitness for gardening. Fitness for gardening might sound as useful as fitness for darts but both activities put your back into awkward and sustained postures that stronger, fitter muscles and more mobile joints can handle better.

Hip and ankle mobility are important to make bending less stressful on your back. Regular calf stretching and hip mobilising is a good idea for anyone who cannot do a deep squat with good technique. If you are actually very flexible then your biggest issue is likely to be “core stability” so exercises to strengthen the tummy muscles and glutes would be most beneficial.

When your back does hurt NHS Physio’s often recommend hugging your knees to your chest or touching your toes repeatedly from a standing position. Whilst both these exercises will give your muscles some stretching relief in the short term they are also contributing to an increased load on the discs of your lower back making them wear out quicker in the long term so don’t do them!

Some safer alternatives for back stretching include:

Prayer stretch

prayer stretch
Start on all fours, sit back onto heels and reach hands out in front, hold for 30 seconds.

Cat stretch

catcamel

and simply laying on your back with your legs supported by a chair.

egoscue static back

If these exercises aren’t enough to settle your back pain down after a few days then you probably need some actual hands on treatment like massage and manipulation. Having these types of chiropractic treatment every few months can also help keep back pain at bay by stopping the usual build up of muscle/joint stiffness over time.