Gardening is a great way to spend time outside during beautiful summer weather. But if you’ve ever spent hours pulling weeds or planting flowers, you know just how hard it can be on your back, knees, and neck. Here are some quick tips to make sure that you stay pain free, even after an afternoon in the garden:
Maybe it’s never occurred to you to stretch before you venture out into the garden, and maybe you even think that it sounds a bit silly to do so. But one of the quickest ways to fall victim to cramped muscles is to stay in one position for a long period of time, and that’s usually what happens when you garden. So before you start planting, take the time to loosen your back and neck muscles. This will help you to avoid pain in the long run.
And stretching isn’t just helpful before you start working. Standing up and lifting your arms above your head periodically to stretch your spine while you’re gardening is important. Neck rotations are another good way to release tension between jobs.
Plan ahead and don’t overdo it
We’ve probably all fallen into the trap of panicking and having to get the entire garden prepared and planted in one weekend. But that’s likely a lot of work for just one or two days and it’s also a good way to overdo it and end up sore or injured. It’s important to know your limits and to listen to your body. If your knees or back start to feel sore, take a break or hang up the sheers for the day.
Raise your garden beds
As mentioned above, leaning over the soil for hours on end is really hard on your back. That means that raising the surface that you’re working on will go a long way in easing that strain. Most raised garden beds are about 4 to 8 inches off of the ground, and even that slight elevation will be much easier on your back. If you have a hard time bending over at all, raise them even higher or focus on planters or pots that can be elevated to waist height while you work.
Cushion your knees
Along with back pain, knee pain is another major risk in gardening. To avoid sore knees at the end of the day, invest in a foam pad or kneepads to provide a cushion between your knees and the ground. Some foam gardening pads even have handles on the side to help you stand up without straining your back.
Vary the tasks
If you have three garden beds to weed in one day, you’ll likely be in the same position for a long period of time and that puts a lot of pressure on your back, neck, and knees. To avoid that, vary tasks to force yourself to get up, walk around, and stretch out your legs. Doing something like watering the flowers between weeding projects will help you stay limber.
Gardening is a major part of a lot of peoples’ spring and summer recreational activities, but it’s also a lot of work and has the potential to leave you sore and achy. Pay attention to your body while you’re working and take the time to stretch and loosen your muscles. You’ll be much happier at the end of the day and it will make your time in the garden much more enjoyable.