Tips to help you take care of your back whilst gardening For many people at the weekend, it’s time for popping on the marigolds and getting stuck into the garden, whether for pleasure or out of necessity. What most of us can take for granted, however, is that it is a very physically demanding past-time. We often don’t give a second thought to the variety of strenuous tasks we put our body through whilst gardening and when these activities are carried out without proper preparation, quite often we’re left with very painful backs. It may sound silly to some, but just like all intensive exercise, gardening requires a proper warm-up and good posture in order to be carried out safely and ultimately painlessly. As gardening usually involves a lot of digging and bending, it tends to require the use of many of your arm, shoulder and back muscles. Therefore, it’s best to give these a stretch out for 5-10 minutes before beginning any activity. You can also go for a brisk walk for 5-10 minutes. This will gradually raise your heart rate and warm-up our muscles, preparing you for the task ahead. Before beginning an activity, make sure you know your limits. If something is too heavy to lift, seek someone else’s help or use a wheelbarrow to move it in smaller loads over several trips. If you are using a shovel, use one that is smaller so you are not holding a lot of weight. This should also discourage you from using it to lift loads that are too heavy! When you are lifting or using a shovel, lower yourself by bending at the knees whilst keeping your back straight. You should then lift or shovel the item within your ‘base of support’. This means keeping the item close to your body, avoiding leaning too far forwards or any twisting motion at the back. Often, it is when we don’t do this correctly that our backs are prone to injury. This is also true if using the lawnmower. Ensure you only push and pull forwards and backwards, do not try and move the mover diagonally or side-to-side. And although your old heavy mower that you’ve had for many years may hold some sentimental value to you, have a think if it’s time to upgrade to a lighter model which will help reduce the strain on your back. Take a break every 20 minutes or so and have a stretch out. Whilst our backs are designed to move in all directions, holding it in sustained postures over long periods of time can often lead to pain and injury. You can even switch between heavy and light tasks allowing your back to rest. However, whilst doing lighter tasks such as weeding, you should avoid bending over and instead use a cushion to kneel on. Sometimes, injuries happen and our backs become painful. If this happens, stop gardening and rest your back, never continue through pain. If your injury does persist, here at the Buckingham Clinic we can provide highly specialised and effective treatment to help you return to your garden, pain-free! We are one of the few clinics in the U.K that provide IDD Therapy. In combination with a full spinal assessment, this therapy provides a safe, Non-surgical, targeted treatment and relief for those suffering from general neck and low back pain. IDD Therapy has shown to be effective in: improving disc health; rehabilitating your spinal muscles and ligaments and re-aligning spinal structures. So don’t suffer in silence, contact the Buckingham Clinic and see how we can help you return to pain-free gardening.