By Robert Greenfield, M.D.
Gardening is one of my favorite things to do and helps provide some much-needed stress relief from my busy day-to-day life. It is fun to see the vegetables that I grow served on my family’s table. However, for some people gardening can cause new or exacerbate existing back or neck pain due to prolonged bending. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy gardening without the aches and pains.
Most of us have ground-level gardens, so I hope these tips help you prevent back pain. First, try to avoid bending that can cause pain by increased pressure on the discs in your spine or increased risk of a muscle sprain. Instead, try maintaining your back in a neutral position. If you are able, squat down while on the ground. After you finish, rise up from the squatted position by placing pressure on your heels and using your gluteal muscles to help you to a standing position. Consider this a bonus exercise. If squatting down is not an option for you, try using a stool and sit while you work in your garden. Gardening kneeler seats allow one to kneel on a supportive pad and can be adjusted for a sitting position.
Above-Ground or Container Gardens
I use a container garden. A container garden or platform garden can help prevent neck and back pain by limiting you from working at ground level and limiting unnecessary bending. The platform or container can be placed at waist level and allow you to grow your favorite vegetables or flowers while promoting good body mechanics. Build the platforms small enough so you don’t have to reach or bend forward repeatedly to avoid causing strain on your lower back and neck.
If a vegetable can be grown vertically, I take full advantage. Squash, cucumbers and melons, among others, can be grown vertically. This saves space and harvesting can be done without bending.
Gardening in metro Atlanta is great almost year-round. I hope these tips help you prevent or alleviate back pain as you enjoy being outdoors and growing your favorite vegetables and flowers. If you experience neck or back pain that is not alleviated by home remedies, the physicians at Resurgens Spine Center are here to help you get back to doing what you love.
Robert T. Greenfield, M.D., received his medical degree and completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. He completed his fellowship in Adult Reconstructive Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation at Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center in Downey, California. Dr. Greenfield practices at Resurgens Orthopaedics’ Covington office.
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Have more concerns about back pain? Check out more home remedies for back pain from the experts Resurgens here.