For this blog, I have often written about pain management for more active people, including professional athletes. But, as everyone knows, you don’t have to lift heavy weights in the gym, get tackled on the football field, or run a marathon to end up hurting.
Take gardening, for example. It may seem peaceful and slow-paced, but it’s hard work for your body – especially if you struggle with chronic pain. It’s important to take the smart approach and use all of the tricks and tools available to help you.
Pain management specialists recommend five tips for avoiding injuries and minimizing the impact of gardening on your body:
Gardening is a strenuous activity that works many muscles and joints. It involves a range of motions, including standing, leaning, kneeling, crouching, bending over, squatting, twisting and lifting.
A sedentary lifestyle, including sitting for long periods of time, can weaken core muscles and quadriceps (the large muscle at the front of the thigh).
Becoming more active is a good idea, but it’s important to condition muscles in the lower back before you start any type of physical activity, including gardening.
Activities such as yoga, which focuses on stretching exercises that can increase flexibility, and brisk walking, which can get your heart pumping and your muscles warmed up, are excellent exercises for gardeners.
In addition to warming up, use the proper techniques to bend and lift to help minimize the impact of gardening on your body.
Try these basic body-mechanic tips for gardeners to help avoid injury and minimize pain:
- Keep objects close to your body when lifting.
- Maintain the natural curves of the spine as you work.
- Bend your knees and squat or kneel to get to ground level instead of bending over.
- When you are kneeling, be mindful of your position. Try kneeling with one knee on the ground and the other up, and switch knees as needed to alleviate pressure.
- Keep your movements smooth and avoid any sudden twisting or reaching motions.
- Switch activities and adjust your posture frequently to reduce the risk of repetitive-motion injuries.
Gardening tools and accessories can make things easier, especially if you have chronic pain:
- Wheelbarrows and garden carts –These make it easier to carry heavy objects if you have back pain or difficulty bending your knees.
- Vertical, elevated and raised-beds – They come in many varieties and can make gardening much more enjoyable if you have knee pain.
- Garden stools/benches –These are helpful for planting and weeding, as they reduce the need for squatting down.
- Cushioned kneelers with handles – These help minimize pressure on your knees and make it easier to stand up.
- Ergonomic tools –Investing in larger or curved-handled tools is helpful if you have arthritis in your hands.
While it may often be tempting to tackle a gardening project in as little time as possible, doctors are against it. Instead, pace yourself – take breaks, stay hydrated and ask for help.
Listen to your body. It will let you know if you are overworking it. Significantly increasing pain indicates that you need to modify your activity or movement.
Remembering to stretch after you work is important too, as it can reduce swelling and ward off stiffness and soreness.
While gardening is hard work, it can also promote healing. It can actually help ease chronic pain in some cases because it’s good exercise and helps relieve stress.
Gardening reconnects us to the cycles of nature. These cycles are the rhythm of life itself. When we spend time in the garden, we learn to slow down and forget our daily worries.
I, and most pain management colleagues, urge you to follow tips like these. But, of course, there are times when you try to be careful and wind up with pain – new or from chronic injuries. If your suffering is persistent or too much to bear, call
Any time your pain becomes overbearing and does not respond to traditional therapy, NJ Pain Care Specialists offers a range of effective, safe, non-surgical treatments to help eliminate the pain and get you back in action. Our top-notch staff at NJPCS is experienced in Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) to promote new tissue formation and help heal tendon damage, and Stem Cell Therapy, a new way to harvest large amounts of stem cells from your own body for the repair and regeneration of various tissues and organs.
Here’s to pain-free gardening!
At the present time, Stem Cell Therapy and PRP Treatments are not covered by medical insurance.