Now that the winter is winding down weekend warriors start venturing out to ready their gardens for the upcoming planting season. Here are some things that can be done to reduce chance of injury to your back while working in the garden.
Warm up!- Prior to doing strenuous yard work making sure you are well rested goes without saying. It will help you focus better on your tasks. You can do some side and back stretches. When stretching be sure to hold each stretch instead of bouncing. If it's your first time out since winter take more breaks so as not to overdo it. Don't forget to have water readily accessible to keep hydrated.
Shoveling- It is quite common for us to shovel from the same side using the same foot even to push the shovel down into the earth. Alternate sides you hold the shovel on to keep the workload balanced for your back. Using a long handled shovel will provide you more leverage and less bending. Avoid twisting when tossing the dirt from the shovel instead pivot to turn to save your back.
Weeding- When weeding on your knees keep your tummy tucked in to prevent your back from sagging as you work. This not only protects your back but strengthens your core muscles. Again avoid any twisting movements. When bending down to pick up weeds bend at the knees not at the waist.
Lifting bags of soil- Picking up a bag of soil from the ground make sure to bend your knees to bring you closer to the bag. Lift the bag to your middle and using your legs come to stand. Hold the bag close to your middle if you are walking with it and never twist (sound like a broken record here).
Think of your back like a garden hose, when it's new it's supple and can be flexed and twisted but keep twisting that hose and you will eventually kink it and possibly cause a leak. The same goes for our backs. Using improper lifting and twisting motions puts stress on our backs that is cumulative so good habits go a long way to protecting your back.