woman pulling carrots from raised garden

6 GARDEN HACKS TO SAVE YOUR BACK

We’ve all done it — spent an entire afternoon planting and weeding, only to have your back thank you for your efforts with blazing pain and pulled muscles. Or, perhaps you’re starting out with back issues and simply need to be more careful so you can continue gardening. Whatever your situation, taking a few easy steps while you’re out doing your favorite hobby can save you considerable pain and discomfort later. Check out these garden hacks to save your back! And the best news? They’re mostly free!

Start with Prevention

Yes, I know you’ve heard it all before, but since it’s your back we’re talking about, it’s worth repeating. There are many things you can do before even beginning your gardening afternoon that will help save your back — namely, regular movement including:
  • Brisk walking — even 15-20 minutes helps greatly
  • Yoga — a good Sun Salutation series warms the entire body up
  • Stretching — slow and steady, no bouncing
  • Core exercises — planks and the like help keep your core strong and engaged

6 Back Saving Garden Hacks

Shed with flowers in it
Pitchfork and dirt in wheelbarrow
tools in shed

1. Practice good form when you’re lifting and bending. Or, in other words, don’t do the bendy-reachy-lifting action unless you want to throw out your back or put your sacroiliatic joint into spasm. Keep plants, pots, and tools close to your body when lifting, and bend to ground level rather than bend over.

2. Use the right tools. Wheelbarrows make moving heavy objects a relative snap, distributing the weight evenly. Ditto for garden carts. Use ergonomic tools that work with your body, have stools/benches nearby for a break, and kneel on cushioned kneeling pads for ultimate comfort.

3. Store tools at waist level or higher. Using the right tools is important but where and how you store those tools will also play a part in saving your back. Storing your tools at waist level or higher will keep the bending to a minimum. If you have a garden shed or space in your garage create a garden tools wall you can hang tools with hooks. Finally, use tables, benches or cabinets with waist high drawers to prep and store your garden essentials.

trelless with vertical flowers growing
Raised garden beds
Wagon raised flower bed

4. Build raised beds. Okay, so we said most of these tips were free. While creating raised beds is not free, it’s one thing you can do that will spare your back considerable discomfort. Build them to be 6” to 12-18” tall so you can easily sit on the edge to maintain your garden. A width of 4’ is ideal, allowing you to reach into the center of the bed without pulling muscles.

5. Grow vertically. Raising your garden beds will reduce crouching but depending on the height there can still be some bending involved when planting, maintaining and harvesting from your raised beds. By growing what you can vertically, you will reduce bending even more. You can add trellises, sticks, poles, or even get really creative and use non-traditional growing mediums like rain gutters, ladders, pallets, wheelbarrows, etc. The sky’s the limit on growing vertically.

6. Pace yourself. Trust us, we know it’s tempting to keep going to get that entire project done, whether it’s planting, weeding, hauling, or building. But we all know where that leads, and it’s not fun. Take breaks, stay hydrated, stay mindful of any pain or aches in your back, and know when to call it a day. Then remember to stretch afterwards to avoid stiffness, swelling, and soreness.

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