Gardening and back pain

People who have suffered a bout of lower back pain are well aware that the fundamental actions of gardening can easily trigger off a pain cycle.  The action of flexing forward and rotating put the spine under dangerous load.  Ideally, general strength should be improved and correct lifting technique should be mastered before the gardening season starts. 

Lower back pain is the most common gardening complaint because of the repetitive action to squat and lift.  The 2 main culprits are using your low back vs your leg muscles to lift and having tight leg muscles that tilt pelvis anteriorly [forward] and compress the lower back.  Strength, flexibility and technique are your solutions!

Top technique cues are:

  • squat down close to the object
  • feet hip to shoulder distance apart with a slightly staggered stance
  • use your core and leg muscles to lift
  • try to keep your back straight & upright [core engaged] as you lift
  • keep the load close to you
  • share the load when possible
  • move with purpose and care

Top strength moves are:

  • squats
  • lunges
  • plyometric squats [jumping]
  • lateral squats
  • Kettle bell swing squats
  • Bosu balance training
  • plank & side planks
  • Pushups
  • back rows

Top stretches are:

  • quadriceps
  • hamstrings
  • gluteals
  • IT band
  • adductors
  • calves
  • chest
  • back

Gardening guidelines are: Start with a couple of hours at a time building to 4 or more hours over a few weeks, stretch during and after gardening and take a break every hour for 5 -10 minutes.  Knee, neck and forearm discomfort are also common at the beginning of the gardening season but the rules above still apply.  In the end, technique and training will usually correct the problem!

What will you conquer in Summer 2016?    Set your fitness goals & conquer them

Kind regards, Tracie

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