FEELING GREAT: The problem with gardening

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Something that is capable of causing a person pleasure, is just capable of causing an equal amount of pain.

Think about that last time you had just a bit too much to drink? Great at the time, unbearable the next day.

Back pain is an often-inevitable consequence of a few too many hours spent in the garden. And in the same way that spending too long in a beer garden will cause pain in your head and stomach, the consequence of attending to your garden for hours on end is also likely to cause things like stiffness, nerve pain or even muscle spasms of your back.

The next day aches and pains of a day in the garden, much the same consequence of too many wines or larger – inevitable

But its not the garden that’s the problem, its how your working on it and the positions that you have to get into when trying to keep it in great shape.

And these injuries that are caused by gardening are so common, that just before any summer bank holiday weekend, we often joke in our office that the phones will be on red alert when we re-open with a flurry of over keen gardeners wanting some attention on their lower back, likely to be so stiff that they can barely get out of a chair.

And we’re never let down.

In the same way that the sun will send people to the beer gardens of Hartlepool’s Marina for hours on end, it will also send people to their own gardens and allotments for just the same length of time. And here’s the real problem.

Gardening means that you usually have to lean over or bend forwards.

Even something as simple as pushing a lawn mower means that you’re in a slightly flexed, or leaning forward position.

And the issue is that in this position, your spine and the muscles are in their most vulnerable position.

More so than when you’re sitting. In fact, there is almost a third more pressure on your lower back when you’re in this leaning forward type position.

And it’s the reason that I’ve had so many people visit my physio clinic for back pain that came on suddenly when leaning over the sink – just to brush their teeth. Might sound a really innocuous and simple activity, but the leaning forward bit is lethal and shows how very easy it is for a persons muscles to tighten and spasm causing pain.

So if your going to be spending time in your garden or allotment this summer, be aware that every time you lean forward for a sustained period of time, that moment where you try to straighten back up, is often a hot spot for pain and injury.

Strengthening your lower back muscles is the most effective way to avoid back pain. If you would like some specific exercises to help strengthen your back then please feel free to email my office info@paulgoughphysio,com and my admin team will send them too you.