How to Prevent Back Pain in the Garden and What to Plant to Reduce Inflammation
By Savanna Stone //
Gardening 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! Exercise 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. Stretch. 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 your 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 healing 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. You can also use your new garden space to roll out on the Chirp Wheel+ (for extra zen). Rolling out on the Chirp Wheel+ can help reduce the back pain you got from gardening in the first place and can help you relax in your new place of relief.
Things you can grow in your new garden to reduce inflammation and back pain:
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or black berries are all good picks for your anti-inflammatory garden. They are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals and contain antioxidants that help to reduce inflammation.
Broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, or kale are all good options for back-pain-free foods. Like berries, broccoli and those other vegetables contain antioxidants that help to reduce inflammation.
Avocados are full of potassium, magnesium, fiber, and monounsaturated fats. They’ve also been known to help reduce high blood sugar for those with diabetes. And for all those with back pain, they are the perfect thing to grow in your garden to help reduce inflammation.
Loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants, bell peppers and chili peppers have amazing anti-inflammatory effects. They are also packed with quercetin, sinapic acid, and ferulic acid, which are more antioxidants to help reduce inflammation.
Regardless of the fact that some people aren’t fond of mushrooms and others are, mushrooms can help reduce inflammation. Portobello mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and truffles all contain phenols and antioxidants that reduce inflammation and can help with your back pain. For mushrooms though, it might be best to eat them raw for the best anti-inflammatory effects.
Grapes, like some other fruits, are known to reduce inflammation because they contain anthocyanins. Whatever that is, if you trust our scientists and want the other health benefits that also come with grapes, go ahead and plant those vines.
High in vitamin C, potassium, lycopene (another antioxidant), tomatoes are also known to help reduce inflammation. There are so many good meals you can make with tomatoes. Go ahead and plant some basil too and you’ll have some of the best Italian meals out there and less back pain.
Cherries contain antioxidants, like anthocyanins and catechins, that will fight away your inflammation. They are also great for desserts or just to snack on, the perfect cherry on top of your garden.
Chronic Condition Team. (2019, June 18). Why Gardening Doesn't Have to Give You Lower Back Pain. Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/gardening-doesnt-give-lower-back-pain/
Malzahn, L. (2017, June 8). 12 Gardening Tips For Lower Back Pain Management. Retrieved from https://omronhealthcare.com/2013/08/12-gardening-tips-for-lower-back-pain-management/
Priestley, S. (2018, July 13). Why gardening makes you happy. Retrieved from https://www.tigersheds.com/thehiphorticulturist/gardening-makes-happy/
Spritzler, F. (2019, December, 19). The 13 Most Anti-Inflammatory Foods You can Eat. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-anti-inflammatory-foods#section13
The Great Big Greenhouse. (n.d.). Why Do We Garden? Retrieved from https://greatbiggreenhouse.com/expert-advice/why-do-we-garden/