Lower Back Pain

Yard Work and Gardening With a Bad Back

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Dr. Alexander Jimenez looks at how to keep your back healthy while doing yard work and gardening. We’re looking for ways to find mental and physical engagement without socializing. Many individuals are breaking up isolation and monotony by doing home projects in the yard and garden.

Doctors may tell patients that yard work and gardening should be avoided if they have a bad back. Individuals with a history of back pain/issues or who have had spinal surgery might think that gardening is out of the question. None of this is true. Yard work and gardening can be therapeutic physically and mentally for individuals with compromised backs as long as they follow some common-sense safety concepts.

 

 

Gardening with an ergonomic approach can make yard work and gardening very back/spine-friendly. If possible, try to get tools for gardeners with neck and back problems or modify your own. Modified tools can highly reduce the chances of injuring your back. Try to set up the yard or garden in a way with minimal bending and reaching.

If this cannot be achieved, set up the work to be done in an order where any bending/reaching tasks are spaced out so as not to be doing them all at once. Here are some ways for back-preservation when doing yard work and gardening. They will make your work more productive, reduce fatigue and discomfort, and minimize the risk of exacerbating any back injuries/problems.

Environment

Working in the right environment is important for those with a bad back. If possible, garden on a raised platform or a raised garden at a comfortable height to be able to stand and garden without bending and reaching. Structures can be purchased, or make them yourself with old broken used furniture like tables, shelves, etc. Garden beds can be worked using the square foot technique to minimize bending, reaching, and squatting.

 

 

The Square Foot gardening technique was invented in 1976 by Mel Bartholomew, a civil engineer and efficiency expert that took up gardening after retiring. These types of gardens are made waist-level using old furniture, self-made or store-bought frames that are back-friendly. Gardening like this means less time weeding, bending, and reaching with more time enjoying the therapeutic benefits.

Preparation with the Spine in Mind

Here are some tips on modifying your methods and tools for safe yard work and gardening. One example is using a golf bag with wheels for carrying and selecting long tools. Also, use a two-wheeled garden cart/wheelbarrow. It is more balanced than a standard wheelbarrow and is better for the spine.

 

 

Practice Safe Posture/Position

Never use the back muscles to lift. Lift with the legs. Bend the knees, hinge at your hips, and keep the back straight. If needed, practice bending before a mirror to see your form and ensure the technique is done correctly. Check out this YouTube video on raking and hoeing. Plant containers while standing using a potting bench or an old table. Have a stool, chair, or heavy-duty bucket to sit down easily when a break is needed.

Containers

One back-friendly gardening technique is to plant in containers. Plant them where they will sit, which minimizes lifting or carrying to a location. Styrofoam peanuts can be placed at the bottom third of the container instead of gravel to make the containers lighter. If using large containers, invest in a wheeled pot dolly to move the containers easily.

 

 

Focus on the Time and Not the Task

With big projects, break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Dividing the bed/s into halves or thirds makes the work more pleasant. Underestimating how long a project might take can be a major setback. So set time limits and follow through. When recovering from surgery or a back injury, set a limit of 15 minutes of work and see how it feels. If your back is not irritated or sore, expand to 30 minutes.

Work smarter, not harder. Under no circumstances should you shovel or pull up heavy, deep-rooted plant/s. This type of movement could end yard work and gardening for some time. Do not forget that pain is our body’s telling us to stop. Be sure to talk with a spine specialist or chiropractor before starting yard work or gardening.

Gardening Benefits

Activity and fresh air can make us feel healthy and happy. Gardening can provide this along with healthy exercise. Therapeutic benefits of yard work and gardening have been well documented. Gardeners that did daily work were found to experience significant stress reductions and improved overall health and quality of life compared to non-gardeners.

Gardening can significantly raise energy levels, optimism, zest for life, self-esteem, openness, and other factors relevant to self-image. Even a little gardening goes a long way. Just being outside and the physicality of yard work and gardening contribute to stress reduction. Another benefit of gardening is planting herbs and veggies; you can cook even healthier, much like a farm-to-table restaurant.


Low Back Pain Care


 

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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Yard Work and Gardening With a Bad Back" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.

Blessings

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*

Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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