Protect your back whilst enjoying the health benefits of pottering in your garden.
It is that time of the year when the sun is starting to shine, and the surrounding countryside is full of golden daffodils, fragrant blossoms and bouncing lambs. Just the motivation needed to get ourselves outdoors and start thinking about our own gardening needs and jobs.
According to an article in Organic Lesson, gardening has some great health benefits too:
- Providing Stress Relief. Based on a study conducted by the Wageningen University and Research Center, gardening could play a part in reducing stress levels. Results from the study suggest that gardening can help reduce the level of cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Strengthening Your Immune System Soil comes with plenty of germs and bacteria; however, exposure to these microorganisms, especially for young children, could help increase their immunity against diseases later on in life. If you are a parent, then it makes sense to get your children involved in gardening activities.
- Gardening Work Out Gardening may not seem hard until you try it. The amount of exertion needed for gardening really depends on the size of the garden. That’s why it is interesting that 3 hours of gardening can equate to 1 hour in a gym.
- Bacteria Buddies According to research, this particular antidepressant microbe causes cytokine levels to increase, which in turns boosts the production of serotonin, said to improve the immune system.
- A Healthier Diet Growing your own fruit and vegetables can only improve your eating habits.
- Stimulating the Brain As reported on CNN, two studies have found that gardening could have a positive influence in reducing the risks of dementia for people in their 60s and 70s.
Here are some tips on how to care for your back while gardening:
- Warm up: Before you start any strenuous activity, it’s essential to warm up your muscles. Do some light stretching exercises to loosen up your back and other major muscle groups.
- Maintain good posture: Pay attention to your posture while gardening. Stand up straight, keep your shoulders relaxed, and avoid hunching over. Engage your core muscles to support your back and distribute the workload evenly.
- Use proper lifting techniques: When lifting heavy objects like bags of soil or pots, bend at your knees and use the strength of your leg muscles to lift, rather than straining your back. Keep the object close to your body and avoid twisting while lifting.
- Take breaks: Gardening can be physically demanding, so remember to take regular breaks. This will give your back a chance to rest and recover. Stand up, stretch, and walk around every 20-30 minutes to reduce the strain on your back.
- Use tools with extended handles: Invest in gardening tools with long handles or use handle extensions. This will allow you to maintain an upright position while working, minimizing the need for bending or reaching excessively.
- Utilise kneeling pads or gardening stools: To avoid prolonged periods of bending or kneeling, use kneeling pads or a gardening stool to provide support and cushioning for your knees and lower back. This reduces strain on your back and joints.
- Lift with assistance: For larger and heavier tasks such as moving large pots or digging deep holes, it’s advisable to seek assistance. Working together with someone else can reduce the strain on your back and help prevent injuries.
- Use raised beds or containers: Raised beds or containers can be a great option for gardening, as they allow you to work at a comfortable height without excessive bending or kneeling. Consider using raised beds or elevated tables to minimize strain on your back.
- Pace yourself: Avoid overexertion by spreading out your gardening tasks over multiple days or weeks. It’s better to accomplish smaller tasks over time than to push yourself too hard in a single day and risk straining your back.
- Apply ice or heat if needed: If you experience muscle soreness or discomfort after gardening, add ice or a cold pack to the affected area for the first 24-48 hours to reduce inflammation. Afterwards, you can switch to heat therapy, such as a warm compress or a hot shower, to relax your muscles.