I hope that we’re getting closer and closer to warm weather! The sun was out all weekend and it gave me hope for Spring to come!! One thing I’m very excited about this Spring that I’ve never done before is plant a garden! My roommates and I don’t have much garden space, but what we do have, we’ll try to harvest! For those of you who are also going to plant a garden, I put together some key things to remember when working in your yard to save your back from much pain!

Lifting and bending correctly

  • Most important: keep your back (especially your low back) in a neutral, stress-free position. There is a forward/ anterior curve to your low back and it is important to keep stress off your spine by maintaining a healthy “S” shape and hinging at your hips.
  • Begin by standing with “unlocked” or soft knees, bend at the hips until tension in the hamstrings (back of the thighs) is sensed, then if you need to bend further, bend at the knee
  • Keep elbows close to your core and shoulders depressed and back
  • Maintain a wide base of support to allow your power to come from your glutes and thighs. This will also reduce the chance of strain on your back.
  • Do your best to keep your knees parallel over your ankles.
  • Once you’re ready to lift your load, begin straightening your legs in a smooth, slow motion, keeping the object close to your body if possible
  • Keep your back neutral.
  • Put a load down by reversing the process (ensure your fingers are not trapped underneath!).

Gardening Tips

  • When transporting objects, remember to hold them close to your body without excessively flexing, extending, or twisting your back.
  • Dig large areas in stages to give yourself time to rest.
  • Lift only as much soil, plants, and tools as you can comfortably hold (you don’t have to prove to your neighbor that you could win a strong-man competition).
  • Use tools that are ergonomically correct and put less stress on the wrists, back, and rest of the body

Using a wheelbarrow

  • Use a wheelbarrow when possible as you can displace much of the load
  • Try to put most of the weight over the wheels
  • Lift the handles using the technique described above
  • Always push the wheelbarrow… don’t pull if possible

Weeding, standing

  • Lean forward at the hips and maintain a neutral low back
  • Feel free to rest your elbow against your thigh to bring your center of gravity back a bit (which will make the isometric hold easier on your legs)
  • Keep your heels planted into the ground (pun intended) to stabilize as you reach and shift your weight in all directions.
  • Keep both knees and hips unlocked, and use your lower body’s movements to give momentum in upper body movements and pulls

Author : Katie Culver is our rehabilitation specialist here at Compass.  She is responsible for helping our patient stabilize their spines and extremities in our to achieve long lasting results.  Katie  graduated from IU Bloomington with a degree in Athletic Training and brings her knowledge and skills to assist our patients.