How to Prevent Back Pain in the Garden

By Savanna Stone

Gardening1 can be your connection with nature in a city where there doesn’t seem to be enough. Tilling that ground can help you have a sense of accomplishment. When you garden, you know you did something good, helping the world have more oxygen and helping your body have more exercise and vegetables. And we all know the food we grow ourselves somehow tastes better because we created it. It’s like our food child. The only thing that seems not to be the bees knees about gardening is the back pain. So what can we do to stop hurting our back in the garden and keep enjoying our favorite hobby?

Don’t become Weak-Sauce McGee. When you sit on the couch or at a desk all day, your core muscles and your leg muscles start to melt away. As your muscles melt, people will start to call you Weak-Sauce. After you’ve proved to the world that your muscles have no worth left, people will call you Weak-Sauce McGee. And that will be your new name forevermore. So don’t let your muscles melt! Exercise2 every day with core-strengthening and leg-strengthening workouts like yoga, weights, or pilates. Preventing muscle deterioration will allow you to sit, stand, squat, bend, lift, and crouch when you garden. People will no longer call you Weak-Sauce; they’ll call you Buff-Bones Charlie. Because that’s your new name. You’ve earned it.

Don’t forget to act like a scout and be prepared. Use time before and after gardening for your muscles. Stretch3. Stretching will help loosen up your muscles so you don’t put any extra strain on them. Try lying on your back and pulling your knees to your chest to stretch your lower back muscles. While doing this stretch, keep your ankles together. See our other blog post for more stretches. You can stretch before and after you garden. Remember that you can also use hot and cold therapy to ease your back pain. Check out Chirp’s hot and cold therapy products and see which one is right for you. Hot and cold therapy can help ease your pain and can help with circulation. 

Wear your dirty gardening pants so you don’t have to bend over. If you’re a serious gardener, you shouldn’t care about donating a pair of your pants to gardening. When you wear these pants, let them be a reminder to you that you don’t have to bend over to dig that hole or harvest that squash. Sit, kneel, or criss-cross your legs on the ground. Get down and dirty. This will prevent you from bending over and putting extra strain on your lower back muscles so that you don’t want to stop gardening. When you’re wearing your special pants, also remember to lift objects correctly. Keep the object close to your body and maintain the natural curvature of your spine while you work. Switch activities and your posture often so that your pants don’t get dirty just in one spot and so you body doesn’t hurt from repetitive motion. 

Use tools to your advantage when advantageous. If your family won’t garden with you, let gardening tools be your new family. They will support you through all of your gardening trials. Use a wheelbarrow or a garden cart to tow your heavy sod, flowers, harvested pumpkins, or watering can. Build vertical, elevated, and raised gardening beds; there are a lot of options for your garden. By using different types of gardening beds, you could have the coolest garden in the city. Build yourself a garden stool or bench so that when you plant and weed, you get a break from squatting all day. Or if you weren’t excited about donating a pair of your pants to gardening, buy a cushioned kneeler with handles. These are light and easy to place wherever you need them in the garden. Also try using larger tools with longer handles so you don’t have to bend over all the time to dig a hole or fluff your soil. 

Don’t try and be a god of the gardens. You might think that you’re too busy, so you need to garden as quickly and efficiently as possible. And you might think you have the power to do so like the almighty omnipotent. But trying to tackle too much gardening at once can put extra strain on your body and back. You’re not like Evan Almighty; you haven’t been given the power. So just take the garden a little bit at a time. Everything will be okay. You’re only human.

Allow your garden to be your zen garden. Gardening can promote healing4 for your body. It might actually help your body heal from chronic pain. Gardening can reconnect us with our Mother Earth and with the rhythm of life the earth beats out of the soil. Slowing down and gardening can help you forget your stresses and frustrations for a time and connect with something bigger, watching things grow before your eyes.