Who says that gardening isn’t hard work? Anyone who’s spent a weekend tending a backyard plot knows that there’s a LOT of physical labor involved. This sort of activity can put quite a strain on your muscles, especially those in your back. With this in mind, here are some suggestions for making the most of your time in the garden while saving your back.
Use some common sense.
Gardening is physical activity—it can involve lifting, reaching, twisting and pulling. If you don’t garden regularly or aren’t otherwise physically active, be sure to start slowly and work your way up to longer gardening sessions. Warm up your back muscles with some stretching before you go out, particularly in colder weather. Be sure to keep drinking water nearby and to take breaks often. If you start to feel any pain, stop and rest. Otherwise, you risk injuring your back and making it impossible to do anything at all in your garden until your back has healed.
Plan your garden to reduce the amount of labor you’ll need to maintain it later.
- Use mulch on the surface of your garden and avoid leaving bare spots. This will reduce weeds and help the soil retain moisture, so you don’t have to water as often.
- Use raised flowerbeds, which are both attractive and help reduce the need to bend down. You can even grow vines and other trailing plants around the edges.
- Make sure your flowerbeds are narrow enough that you don’t have to reach too far over them.
Choose your plants carefully.
- Remember that slow-growing shrubs are less trouble to maintain than perennials or annuals.
- Use fruit trees grown on dwarf rootstocks. This will allow you to pick fruit at a reasonable height.
- Consider ground-covering plants to keep weeds under control. Weeding is notoriously hard on the back because of all the bending over.
Use the right tools.
- Use forks and trowels with long handles and other tools with extenders to reduce your need to reach.
- Make sure your pruners and loppers are sharp and have ratchet systems. Cutting will be easier and there will be less strain on your back and shoulders.
- Get a holster for smaller garden tools and attach it to your belt, so you don’t have to keep reaching down to pick them up.
- Avoid heavy watering cans for irrigation. If you use a can, only fill it half way.
Reduce the need for digging.
If you spread compost and fertilizer or manure over a flowerbed surface in the late autumn, the soil has time to settle before spring planting. Worms will take organic matter into the soil and you won’t have to dig so much. This approach requires initial digging to level the soil and remove weeds, but over time you will be able to dig less and less. Many gardeners feel that this method is better than traditional “double digging” because it leaves the soil structure intact. Consult a specialist at your local gardening center for more details on this back-saving approach to gardening.
As chiropractic physicians, we have a particular interest in your musculoskeletal health and overall well-being. If either you or someone you care about has questions or concerns in these areas, we encourage you to call our office today at (703) 912-7822 or visit us at Chiropractor in Burke, VA.