In this post, you’ll learn one simple exercise that can help you prevent back pain when gardening.
This exercise is intended to prevent back pain, not fix it. If you already have an issue with your back, I highly recommend seeing a physical therapist for an individualized treatment plan.
This exercise will be beneficial for most people, but remember not everyone is the same. I will go over what you should feel with this exercise versus what you should not feel, so make sure you read this entire post to determine where you are.
Tips to prevent back pain when gardening
I recently wrote a post on 5 ways to protect your back while working in the garden. If you haven’t read that yet, I highly recommend it. The benefits of the exercise I’m about to show you will be negated if you don’t garden with proper body mechanics.
Brief overview of what you should and should not feel with this exercise
The exercise I’m going to show you is similar to cobra pose in yoga but instead of holding the posture, you’ll be moving on and off. (We’ll go into more detail on this below.) Gardening requires a lot of flexion of your lower back so it can be helpful to do an exercise that is the opposite of this motion (extension) before and after working in the garden.
Stop this exercise and consult with your doctor or physical therapist if you experience any of the following:
- Radiating symptoms or pain in the buttocks, lower extremities, or feet
- Discomfort going out toward one side of your lower back
If you feel tightness in the CENTER of your lower back, assuming this stops when you are done with the exercise/when you are in the resting position, it’s ok to continue.
Finally, the exercise to prevent back pain when gardening
This exercise is called a press-up. I’ll list the instructions here and put pictures below. For video instructions and demonstration of this exercise, check out the video below.
This exercise can be really beneficial to prevent back pain when gardening because it reverses the position your low back is in with this activity.
Instructions for press-ups:
1. Lay on your stomach (either on the floor or on your bed).
2. First prop up on your elbows and see how this feels. If this feels ok, move on to perform the press-up.
3. Place the palms of your hands underneath your shoulders.
4. Using your upper body, start to straighten the elbows to lift the upper torso while the lower body stays on the ground. (Don’t lock out your elbows, always keep a slight bend in them.)
5. Hold for 1-2 seconds at the top and then lower back down and repeat. Repeat up to 10 times.
Notes on this exercise:
- Everyone will have differing mobility with this motion. Go to where your motion allows.
- You really want to use your upper body to move through this exercise. Try your best to keep your legs and lower back muscles relaxed.
- If the press-up feels like too much, you can always just prop up on your elbows instead. If you do this variation, hold for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times.
If this exercise feels good for you, I suggest doing this before and after you garden.
Prop on elbows:
Gardening is such a wonderful outdoor activity and can be so therapeutic. I hope between this post and my last gardening post that you have learned what you need to do to prevent back pain from gardening. The more you learn about your body, the easier it is to prevent issues from occurring from everyday activities.
Happy garden season everyone!
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Exercise and physical activities:
Before beginning any of these exercises, you should consult with your physician, assess your fitness level, and follow all safety instructions.
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