Tips to Prevent A Back Injury While Gardening

As spring and summer are approaching, we begin to get back to our gardening.  While gardening, many people develop back injuries due to improper body mechanics. Therefore, listed below are tips to decrease the likelihood of a back injury this gardening season.

  1. Before gardening, take a 10 minute walk or warm up with some light exercises to warm up your muscles.
  2. While shoveling, remember to bend at your knees and hips, not at your waist.
  3. When you empty a shovel full of mulch or dirt, make sure you pivot your feet while turning your upper body.
  4. Sit or kneel on a small stool or bucket while weeding and planting so you are not bending over. Use knee pads to kneel to avoid pressure on your knees.
  5. Switch jobs every 30 minutes and take a break every 15 minutes.
  6. Working on raised beds is less strenuous for your back because you are not bending over as much.
  7. Use a cart or wheelbarrow to move things.
  8. Use lightweight hoses for watering.
  9. Keeps loads light. Buy smaller bags of dirt and mulch. They might be more costly but they will save your back.
  10. Use ergonomic tools for pruning and planting. Buy long handled tools so you don’t have to reach as far.
  11. Keep your body straight and get under the wheelbarrow to tilt it. Stand straight while emptying the wheelbarrow.
  12. While mowing the lawn, keep a comfortable distance between your hands and your body.
  13. If you experience any pain while doing lawn work or gardening, stop.
  14. Do gentle stretches when you are finished gardening to prevent tightness/pain the following day.

Guidelines to Prevent Injury While Shoveling Snow

It’s that time of year again when you may have to deal with the snow.  Many people injure themselves when shoveling snow.  Therefore,  here are some tips you can use to avoid a shoveling injury this year.

Guidelines to Prevent Injury While Shoveling Snow

  1. Prior to shoveling, you should warm your body up.  This can be done by taking a 5 minute walk and moving your arms in a circular motion.  This causes increase blood flow to the areas of your body you will be using to shovel snow to prevent injury.
  2. Use an ergonomic snow shovel. One with a curved handle to keep your back straight while shoveling.
  3. Push the snow if possible. Pushing the snow away is better than lifting the snow. It you have to lift it, make sure to squat with feet shoulder width apart, and bend your knees and tighten your abdominals. Don’t bend over at the waist rounding your back. You want your legs to do the work, not your back.
  4. Scoop small amounts of snow at a time.
  5. Use a shovel with a plastic blade rather than metal because it is lighter.
  6. Keep the shovel close to your body and dump the snow in front of you or pivot your feet to turn and dump the snow to the side (never twist your body).  The worst position you can be in while shoveling snow is bent over at the waist, scooping and then twisting to throw the snow.  That position puts a great deal of pressure on the discs in your spine.
  7. Use boots with good traction and once you have cleared an area, put sand or salt down to help with your traction, while continuing to shovel.
  8. Also, make sure you take breaks. Drink lots of water and avoid caffeine or smoking before you shovel.  Caffeine can cause an increase in your heart rate and constrict your blood vessels. If you experience any chest pain, make sure you call for help.

Shoveling with Good Biomechanics