strategic gardener, one who recognizes signs of a problem and so can avoid
them, in this case backaches and sciatic pain. I am sure we have all
experienced them and tend to discount them as insignificant. However, they
can be very painful and even keep you off your feet for some time.
Some steps to avoid
backaches, that we may know but don't always follow:
Plan ahead and watch time
limits. It is easy to overdo when you love getting down and dirty!
Limit amount of time spent
weeding, digging and "grunt work", especially those tasks that
we usually do bending over from the waist. Can't do that for long without
Plan on 20-30 minutes of that
followed by a break, and then a different activity for a change of
In a back recovery mode plan
tasks ahead, and plan to do just enough to keep roses blooming. They will
probably do just fine, at least in the short run!
Don't bend forward or down.
This seems impossible when weeding, digging, hoeing, even adding
fertilizer. Here are some ways to avoid this.
When you do an activity that
might require bending from the waist, bend you knees instead, using those
strong leg muscles. Even this can't be maintained for very long.
When you straighten up, don't
use back muscles. Again, use those leg muscles. When sitting on a low
bench, a wheeled one is preferred since you can easily move around without
having to get up and down, or use a stool and even the ground. A strong
stick or cane can aid in getting up safely. Keep your spine and hips in
alignment, as much as possible.
For just a few weeds or
tasks, kneel down on one knee using a pad if preferred, and weed on
alternate sides. Use a stout stick or cane to rise with some support.
For hoeing, weeding, or
planting annuals use a shovel or digging fork to loosen the soil, but not
lifting it. Do this without bending. Next sit or kneel on the ground, and
use that knee pad. For short periods, hand hoe or weed an area that is
easily reached. Then you can plant seeds or annuals. . This may take
longer, but you will be pain free. How about lying down to weed? It can
Pause often to
take breaks, have a cool drink, or chat with a neighbor
Seek professional help
if you are really in pain that does not go away with rest or pain pills
such as acetaminophen.
With all the
attention to sports medicine we have lots of different people to turn
to—physical therapy, chiropractic, therapeutic massage, yoga,
(Check out the