The Southeastern Spine Institute

Gardening has many benefits, yet it also carries everyday dangers you may not realize — especially for your back. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health cites back pain as one of the most common injuries reported. Americans easily spend more than $50 billion each year to treat back and shoulder pain alone.

Many of these injuries can be avoided or minimized when working around your house, saving millions of dollars and improving your overall quality of life. Focus on working properly in your backyard, not lying on your back in agony. A simple stumble, twist, or bend can pinch nerves, crush spinal disks, and send pain to almost every region of your body. Following some easy gardening tips can lessen hospital visits and give you more time in your garden.

Before You Begin

Doctors agree that poor posture causes back strain. The more support you have, the less chance there is of you incurring back pain. The first step of important gardening tips is to ensure that you have the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as:

  • Back brace. This supports your lower back as well as your posture.
  • Knee pads. Safeguarding your knees makes it easier to maintain your posture.
  • Comfortable shoes. Proper footwear lessens back strain.

Simplify your workspace. Work smarter and safer, not harder. If your task involves a lot of bending, try using a stool instead. Having your tools near waist level reduces unnecessary bending. And don’t forget to warm up or stretch. This fights against stiffness, sore muscles and pinched nerves.

Tending the Garden

Now that you have everything you need at your fingertips, you’re ready for the garden. The risk of back injury varies depending on the job. While you’re performing these tasks, remember these gardening tips:

  • Avoid awkward posture. Try not to reach for things that are over your head or beyond your normal reach. You reduce muscle fatigue if you work as close to your workspace as you possibly can.
  • Mind your motion. Maintain smooth movement. Twisting your body is dangerous and can cause pain throughout your body.
  • Lift with your knees. This gardening tip may seem to be overused, but that’s because most back injuries are caused by lifting with your back.
  • Use a ladder. Remember, you want to keep your workspace close to your waist level, even if that level is a few feet in the air. Make sure the ladder is sturdy and level to ward against falls.
  • Take breaks. Try to avoid long periods of repetitious movements.
  • When in doubt, ask for help. An extra pair of hands is the difference between productivity and pain.

Accidents May Happen

Accidents are just that — accidents. There’s always a chance you may injure yourself. While unfortunate, “walking it off” is not always the best remedy, as some injuries take weeks to develop symptoms.

The team at the Southeastern Spine Institute sees injuries from gardeners who don’t heed safe gardening tips on a regular basis. They know the best steps to take to get you feeling better and prevent further aggravating your back. And they do everything in their power to help you avoid surgery.