Back care in the garden

As we are (hopefully) heading towards sunnier times, out come the shovels, secateurs, and shears to prune and hone our much-loved gardens. But sometimes our efforts come with much hardship and several visits to the Chiropractor! Here are some tips that may help you to avoid any injuries whilst gardening.

  • Dress Comfortably. Without stating the obvious, dress appropriately. Restrictive clothing or jeans that constantly slide down when you bend over can cause you to twist to pull them back up. Manoeuvring awkwardly to stop them from sliding down will aggravate your back. Plus you want to avoid the dreaded builders bottom!
  • Warm up. Yes, you heard us right. You haven’t gardened for a while, and your body needs to get used to it again. There is also some fairly heavy-duty activity going on during spring. To avoid injury, don’t go heavy on the digging immediately and change what you are doing every 20 to 30 minutes. Try not to spend too much time bending, vary that with some upright work.
  • Take breaks. We see many patients who report that they are feeling stiff and sore after spending the afternoon gardening with only a coffee break. Everything in moderation, take breaks, move your body in the opposite direction to what you were doing, and stay well.
  • Stay safe. Make sure that you fix any ladders securely and then try to stay ‘square,’ you should climb a ladder with your knees and hips facing towards the steps. When pruning, try and balance out your activity by twisting on both sides rather than 30 minutes to the right or left. Better still, try not to overreach and invest in some long handled secateurs.
  • Dig it up. When digging, try and switch the leg that you are digging the spade with. It may feel awkward at first but persevere. It is much easier than twisting the pelvis and having to visit your Chiropractor several times for treatment and rehab exercises.
  • Pave the way. When laying patios, try and keep paving slabs as close to your body as possible when carrying them and use your legs for support. Try varying the leg that you lead with if it is strong enough. If you are laying railway sleepers, you will probably need two people to carry them.
  • Clean it up. Washing a patio, usually with a jet wash or hose and brush is another problem job and one that we see a lot of injuries from because of the repetitive action. It is best to switch sides halfway through the job and take a break after 20 minutes. Bending and twisting is a great way to ‘put your back out.’
  •  Be prepared. If you are visiting the gardening centre or builders merchants, try and buy smaller bags of cement or compost. It’s easy to load on to a trolley at the store but a little more difficult to get out of the boot and carry over your shoulder to the garden! Also, try and to use your home wheelbarrow if possible.
  • Keep hydrated. With water! Not tea and the Pimms should come out after you have finished gardening. You could also have a nice soak in a Magnesium Salt bath, to ease any muscle pains.


If you have any questions, do give us a call at the clinic.

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