Garden Forever
Tips To Save Your Back

As we get older, many of us have back-related problems. Here are some tips for keeping your back in good working order. Note: This is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a physician before attempting any physical activity.
  • Try do a few stretches before hand. Gardening is exercise. You would warm up before any other form of exercise. Caution - Don't do anything that causes pain. Consult your doctor.
  • Vary your tasks each time. Do a little bending work, pruning work, digging. etc. and don't overdo any particular activity.
  • Watch your posture - bend your knees and keep your back straight. Hunching over a heavy load is a recipe for disaster.
  • Get down to the work but if you have trouble moving around once you're on your knees plan ahead. Put all the tools you'll need in a bucket or container and use a kneeling pad or kneeler with arms to work from. The arms are good for leverage if you have trouble getting up afterwards. Plus many of them turn over to become a bench for a rest afterwards or to vary your position.
  • If shoveling try to keep your feet wide enough apart to give your body plenty of support.
  • Don't twist your body if you can help it, try repositioning your feet.
  • Use long handled tools that allow you to work sitting or standing. A weeder on a stick can save your back from hours of being bent over in the garden.
  • Try a reaching tool for picking up litter. This saves your back the constant up and down movement when cleaning the garden.
  • A garbage pail on wheels can be rolled around with you to save steps or try a hand-held bag on a pole to prevent bending.
  • Use raised beds or pots so that you never have to get down on your knees.
  • Ask for help. If you have an able bodied friend, young person in the family or someone who would normally give you a gift on your birthday or holiday, ask for a gift of work in the garden. Mixing compost, moving stones, tilling, can all be wonderful gifts that save your back.
  • Consider hiring a local student to do the heavy work that strains your back. Lots of young people can't find summer jobs and are more than willing to spend a few hours a week working for you. You might just turn them into a gardener for life.

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