Q: Since spring is almost here, I’m wondering if you can provide some tips on how I can prevent my back from hurting when I get my garden and flower beds ready for planting.
A: Good body mechanics is the key to being able to garden without creating back pain. Here are several tips that will help you:
1. Make time to prepare and protect your spine, muscles and joints by learning how to check and correct your posture. Many back issues are due to poor postural habits, resulting in a loss of flexibility and decreased physical fitness. Gardening is, in many ways, a contact sport that requires preparation.
2. Warm up before you start. Tight muscles are like cold rubber bands. They need to be warmed up to become flexible. Stretching your neck, shoulders, arms, back and legs before you get started can reduce the risk of pain or injury later.
3. Be kind to your body. Take breaks every 15 minutes. Use cool-down stretches. For most gardeners, having your hands in the freshly turned soil and feeling the breeze of spring after a long winter is truly enjoyable. Relish the time you have in the garden and don’t push yourself.