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Why Gardening Doesn’t Have to Give You Lower Back Pain

Gardening may seem peaceful and slow-paced, but it’s hard work for your body — especially if you struggle with chronic pain. That’s why it’s important to take the smart approach and use all of the tricks and tools available to help you.

Pain management specialist Hong Shen, MD, shares five tips for avoiding injuries and minimizing the impact of gardening on your body:

1. Start with the best medicine — prevention

Gardening is a strenuous activity that works a lot of muscles and joints. It involves a range of motions, including standing, leaning, kneeling, crouching, bending over, squatting, twisting and lifting.

Strong core muscles and flexibility are key to preventing injuries that may happen during gardening, such as lower back pain, strained shoulders or pulled leg muscles.

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, though Dr. Shen says 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,” she says.

2. Pay attention to technique when you’re bending and lifting

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.

3. Let tools ease your burden

Gardening tools and accessories can make things easier, especially if you have chronic pain. Dr. Shen’s favorite tools for gardening include:

  • 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.

4. Don’t tackle too much at once

While it may often be tempting to tackle a gardening project in as little time as possible, Dr. Shen advises against it. Instead, she suggests learning to pace yourself, taking breaks, staying hydrated and asking for help when needed.

“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,” she says.

Remembering to stretch after you work is important too, as it can reduce swelling and ward off stiffness and soreness.

5. Find healing through gardening

While gardening is hard work, it can also promote healing. Dr. Shen says 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,” she says.

SOURCE: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/06/gardening-doesnt-give-lower-back-pain/


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Practice Policy Update Regarding COVID-19

Dear Patients:

Our patients, employees and family are our top priority at Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C.

We ask you to not visit any of our locations if you have symptoms such as fever, sneezing, coughing and possible shortness of breath.

Please cancel your appointment and re-schedule once you are feeling better and are no longer suffering with symptoms.

Only non-symptomatic patients will be seen. No exceptions.

Accompanying family members – including children – are asked to remain in the waiting area and will not be allowed to enter the exam rooms.

During this time of high concern regarding the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) we are taking extra precautions to maintain the highest possible standards of safety and cleanliness. Please be advised that we are carefully following recommendations from both the CDC and WHO and are here to help guide you through this time if needed.

Some steps we are taking to keeping safe:

  1. We know how important cleanliness is and always maintain the highest standards of cleanliness. To further offer you peace of mind, we have increased the frequency of the cleaning of our office.
  2. Rest assured that hand washing is strictly followed. Hand sanitizer is available to all staff and patients.
  3. Additionally, if you have recently traveled to a country with high rates of the coronavirus or have been on a cruise, please reschedule your visit for at least 14 days from your return date. We will gladly accommodate your needs to reschedule. At that time, a telehealth interface can be arranged if necessary.

Find up-to-date and accurate information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and feel free to reach out with questions.

- Your team at Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C.

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