Summer is great time of year. We can finally get outside and get active and do all the projects we’ve been waiting all winter to get going on. The extra sun exposure also ramps up our vitamin D levels and gives our skin a nice healthy tan.
For most people the months leading up to summer are not very active and so when the warm weather hits we get out there and get going before our bodies are fully acclimated to being a bit busier. This is where many people run into problems, especially early in the season because the tendency is to work hard right from the get go. Mowing lawns, planting flowers, boating and camping all come to mind. But I can tell you from almost 10 years of experience that the surprising leader of summer back problems in my office is… Gardening!
Yes, you read that correctly. Gardening!
Gardening is great. It gets people outside and working in the dirt plus you get the reward of harvesting all those delicious tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and more. But lots of the physical work involved with gardening is very hard on the spine, especially the lower back. Specifically the hoeing and weeding cause most of the problems because they involve leaning forward and pulling for extended periods of time. This puts significant strain on the muscles and tendons in the lower back leading to repetitive strain injuries that I often see in my gardening patients.
Of course once the area is injured getting it to see the chiropractor is the best way to resolve the issue but here are a few tips for preventing injuring the back in the first place.
1- Work in short bursts of time rather than one big chunk of time. This lowers the risk of overuse injury. Overuse in the short term is the #1 reason people hurt their backs gardening.
2- Avoid leaning over for long periods of time when weeding or hoeing. Leaning forward puts additional strain on the low back and increases the likely-hood of injury.
3- Be especially careful when doing any kind of lifting not to lift and rotate at the same time. This puts a shearing motion in the spine that is very hard on the low back.
Gardening is a great summer hobby. Just make sure you are protecting yourself from injury and you should have a great summer gardening season!
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