Now that the weather is better with more and more sun and clear skies, we tend to do more outdoor activities, whether it being gardening, walking, jogging, or biking. Many of us love to work on planting and gardening which can require a lot of heavy lifting, bending and being hunched over for long periods of time. Although gardening may seem like a simple task, it can eventually take a toll on our bodies. It is important to be conscious of our gardening posture, lifting posture, and the work load. The most common physical issues from gardening are neck and shoulder pain, upper and low back pain. But don’t worry, all of these issues can be prevented and fixed!
When gardening, people may get into their groove and forget to take frequent breaks to stretch out or let their bodies rest. When this happens, being hunched over for an extended period of time may cause a lot of neck and shoulder stiffness. The head and neck will translate forward and hang down which will add more stress and strain on the neck and shoulder musculature to hold up the head. This in turn can also cause some headaches if the neck musculature and the suboccipital muscles become very tight, compressing on specific structures, blood vessels and nerves. It may also cause some pins and needles and/or pain down the arm if the nerve is being affected. It is important to take frequent breaks to stretch out your chest, trapezius, levator scapula and other neck musculature.
When hunched over for a prolonged period, it may cause the ribs to rotate, change their position, and get “stuck.” This may cause pain or discomfort between the shoulder blades, and can even cause some shortness of breath. It is important to take frequent breaks to stretch out and straighten up, reversing a forward flexed or hunched posture. Open up your chest and stand tall!
Carrying plants, mulch, and top soil can become overwhelming and may create low back pain if not performed properly. Make sure to lift light, lift close to your body, and lift with your legs. It is best when lifting off the floor or when placing things on the floor, to crouch down in a lunge or a squat to prevent relying solely on our low back to do all the lifting. Remember to lift with a neutral spine as well. If your back still feels tight and sore after gardening, it would be recommended to perform some standing extensions for 2-3 sets of 15 repetitions or holding yourself in a nice and relaxed cobra pose for about 30 seconds, 3-5 times.
If these issues seem to persist and are progressively getting worse, get yourself checked out by your trusted team at CFFHP. We’ve got your back!