How to avoid back injury in the garden

Dandylion in grass back pain

Gardeners’ back pain and other gardening injuries in Donegal are commonplace but there are simple steps you can take to minimise risk.

Gardening in Donegal is fast approaching peak season, fuelling the fast-paced growth of grass, plants, weeds and just about everything in our great outdoors.

Green-fingered folk and maybe even those who are not so adept at horticulture are dusting off their garden tools and getting down to work after the winter months of inactivity in the garden. And why not, the health benefits of working in the fresh air of a Donegal garden are tremendous – to many people it’s a good substitute for a gym workout.

Back pain

But just like exercising in the gym, care should be taken in the garden to safeguard spinal health and avoid risk of back pain or injuries such as gardeners’ back, pruner’s neck and weeder’s wrist.

Before amateur horticulturists jump straight into the heavy duty gardening work it’s important to warm up – just like a footballer or athlete would before returning competition.

Donegal back injury clinic

It’s no surprise that there is a marked increase in patients with back injuries in Donegal presenting for chiropractic care in Letterkenny at Freedom Spinal Health. After all, just like many outdoor activities, gardening can be bad for your back, neck, knees, shoulders and more if extra care is not taken.

The movement of the body during gardening can be as taxing as any sport and lead to overuse injuries or repetitive strain injuries.

Many people who pick up an injury while gardening don’t even realise they’ve done any damage until hours later.

Weeding, digging, raking, mowing, lifting, laying and moving objects can cause gardening back problems as a result of the strain on muscles, tendons and ligaments.

To minimise risk of back injury in the garden there are simple steps you can take.

Here are my five tips to avoid gardening injury.

1 Start and end your gardening activity with some gentle mobility exercises and stretching to warm up/cool down the body.

2 Ease into the activity gradually and don’t try to do it all at once. Short bursts of 30 minutes followed by a period of rest would be a good idea.

3 Change the type of activity in order to avoid repetitive strain caused by the same movement over and over again

4 When lifting and moving objects in the garden use your head rather than back. Think about posture, positioning and how you are moving your body and employ tried and trusted manual handling techniques.

5 Take lots of water on board as dehydration can leave the body more susceptible to injury.

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