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How to Avoid Lower Back Pain From Gardening

How to Prevent Back Pain from GardeningDo you love gardening, but end up suffering with lower back pain or joint pain after it?

You aren’t the only avid gardener with this issue.

I get to see it often in Spring and Summer times.

A common cause of lower back pain is when people get outside to make the garden look good during nice weather days. Whilst the sun is out the urge to get out & pick out the weeds, turn the flower beds or cut back the hedges is so tempting.

It is unfortunate that too many people end up suffering, to some degree, by doing a hobby they love, like gardening. There is a kind of joy & pleasure to be had from cleaning up the back yard and making your front lawn look pristine and manicured.

Some try wait it out thinking it will be a temporary problem that will ease in a couple of days. However, more often than not you know about it for days after.

Todays goal is to find out how to keep you enjoying doing gardening chores so you can toil away at the never ending project of creating & maintaining your garden.

You should be able to do some planting, mowing, weeding, mulching, etc… In order to do so you might need to take some precautions that will help you to avoid the initial small injuries from the overworking of your lower back muscles.

Tip #1 Warm-Up Preparation is Key

Preparing for the tasks you intend to perform outside can go a long way in easing the effects of the work on your body.

First, you should remember that:

All gardening & yard activity is decent physical exercise!

You should treat it as such. Therefore, if you get back pain when working in the garden then you need to follow a warm-up routine just like you would with any gym workout.

The benefit of warming up is that your muscles & joints will work better & hopefully not get so strained and inflamed.

How to Warm-up Before Gardening Tips

Here are three simple steps to take before you start gardening.

1. Do Light Exercise
Gentle walking to warm-up

Try a light stroll to get moving

Lighter exercises & movements are best prior to any activity.

What you are trying to achieve is getting warm blood pumping through cold muscles. Not only that, but getting your brain working and the nerves firing to muscle you need to use for the activities to be done.
Practically, this means doing a quick walk around the perimeter of the lawn (use this time to think of what task to do first), jogging on the spot on the grass or a compost heap, a brief cycle on a stationary bike etc…
2. Do Dynamic Stretching
Women trying to warm-up with stretching exercise

Avoid static stretching

I did my year long research study on benefits & risks of stretching back in 2003. What I discovered was don’t do bounce stretches (a.k.a ballistic stretching); this actually harms the muscles. I prefer gentle dynamic stretches.

An example for the lower back region would be standing & leaning back into your lower back then stand upright again. This bending backwards will help motion the lumbar spine joints into extension which they like. Then I would do some slow, controlled flexion moves trying to touch my toes then rolling my spine back up to an upright position.
An example for your neck, upper back & shoulders I would slowly rotate the neck side to side within comfort range. Then do some of these chin tuck rehab movements. For the shoulders do some internal and external rotation movements. This is as simple as having your arms hanging by your side and turning the hands so you see the palms then turn them over to face behind you.
3. Stay Hydrated
Drink thirst refreshing water for hydration

Drink some natural flavoured water

Dehydration is a real issue many adults have. Do you just drink cups of tea or coffee instead & had no water today? Being properly hydrated allows our muscles to function properly.

Remember, when you are digging away at a soil bed or ripping out weeds you’re are sweating too. Perspiration means a loss of water and minerals which can lead to muscle cramping & spasms.
Prior to beginning your outdoor tasks, drink an entire glass of water to assure that you start out hydrated. Then, fill a water bottle to carry with you outside so you can continue to easily & conveniently maintain hydration levels throughout your chores. If you are outside for long periods of time, take breaks to refill so you are never out of water.

Now lets move on to what to do when you are doing the jobs outside that need doing.

Tip #2 Proper Bending, Lifting & Posture

General poor posture and improper lifting techniques are two common biomechanical issues for most people. They are also two of the most common ways that cause people to injure themselves.

Poor movement habits leads to fatigue on the joints, discs and muscles around the spine. Moving more efficiently will help you to prevent the fatigue problem & avoid severe back pain episode.

How to Bend & Move Better During Gardening Tips

  • Bend From Your Hips, Not Your Back – Have you read how to do a hip hinge yet? Learning how to bend over using your hip joints rather than the small lumbar facet joints will save your back.
  • Lift with Your Legs – I’m a fan of knowing how to squat to lift. Bending at the knees to go down into a squat position helps to spread the load over all the correct joints form your ankles to your knees to your hip and pelvis. You’ll end up taking the weight with your gluts and thighs; muscles that are much tougher & better prepared to handle loads and compression forces.
  • Don’t Lean Forward Over Your Lawn Mower – Try keep a straight back with good posture when pushing a mower. This is to avoid undue stress on your lower back from slumping for long periods, especially when pushing and pulling repeatedly. (Did something called flexion intolerance in the lumbar spine is the cause of this kind of pain?)
  • Don’t Weed Standing Up – This leads to bending over again and again. Most people can’t be in a bent forward position for long without straining their back muscles. Instead, kneel on a garden mat or find a small stool to sit on to do the job, and keep all your tools within arm’s reach so you aren’t stretching too far to grab them. (See the recommended gardening tools section below)
  • Try Rake & Hoe with Both Hands, Not Just the Dominant Side – When you rely only on your dominant side, you are using your muscles in an uneven fashion. This can cause an overuse injury to one side. Overcompensation might occur to try ease the strain tired side. Try digging at times by holding a handle with two vs one hand only.
  • Change Your Motions by Switching Activities – If you are out in pottering in your garden every day, do a different activity every day. Th goal is to give your muscles time to rest; so you don’t get an repetitive strain injury. Just as you would rotate training muscle groups on different workout days at the gym. If you’re outside once a week, make sure to designate a certain amount of time to several different tasks so that you aren’t performing the same repetitive motions for long periods of time.

Tip #3 Back-Friendly Gardening Products

Best gardening tools for back pain sufferersBlame the tool not the user, or is the saying the other way round 🙂

Seriously though, using the right type of equipment & gardening tools can make you life so much easier & much less stressful on your system.

For someone who is wants to enjoy planting colourful flowers each season or cut the grass so it looks like Lords cricket ground, I feel another important element is buying products to make the task & your life easier.

Best Ergonomic Gardening Tools to Avoid Back Pain

  • Half-Height Wellies – Working in a wet potentially muddy environment you need waterproof shoes. However, full length wellies can bee very restrictive in a small space compared to a farm.I would recommend using a half-height wellington boot so that you can get some more bend in your ankle. Being able to flex and extend your ankle joint is vital for bending properly & so avoiding back pain. I like the lightweight Dunlop half-height wellington boots range on Amazon.
  • Arch Support Inner Soles – I am a fan of using custom-made orthotics to manage back pain. I’d suggest investing in a good off the shelf pair at a minimum. Especially if you are going to be working for extended periods of time in your lawn.Wear these cushioned soles & arch supports in your supportive shoes or wellies. This will help reduce the impact of the ground on your back muscles. I would highly recommend the Birkenstock Blue Footbed-Arch Support 3/4 length option available on Amazon, I personally loved my old ones.
  • Ergonomic Grass Strimmer – These are also known as weed eaters in some parts. Get a trimmer with a shoulder strap, so that edging and weeding isn’t as difficult for you.After looking at some of the top-rated gas weed eaters, the best options don’t have cords to worry about dragging around with you. A good option looks to be the Bosch ART 23 SL Electric grass trimmer available on Amazon.
  • Kneeling Pad & Stool – When you need to get down to do bedding of plants you need to kneel down. This can be strenuous and painful on an arthritic knee. Also tiresome on the back.Using a kneeling pad for gardening will make the job much more comfortable. I would suggest looking at getting the Gardman Folding Garden Kneeler Seat Kneeling Pad on Amazon. It not only has a padded cushion to rest your knees on; the handles make standing up again easier too. Plus this turns into a portable seat to rest on.
  • Retractable Garden Hose – You need to water your grass and plants of course to maintain a good looking garden. However, hoses can be a pain to unravel and get very heavy to lug around from the tap to the garden.I like the look of this UltraPro 100ft Expandable hosepipe from Scott & Co on Amazon. It has an ergonomic designed handle if you struggle with gripping (have you seen how to improve your grip strength here?). Grandmothers and grandfathers would love this as a gift.

Conclusion

Student gardeners assistingIf you do really struggle with lots of physical ailments, you shouldn’t take on all the work yourself.

Whilst you may find peace of mind planting & watering, the heavy lifting can be outsourced to someone more capable.

Think about hiring a uni or college student who needs a little extra cash. They can mow and edge your lawn for you. They can reach up hight to cut the hedge branches.

Hired help can really reduce the impact on your body, leaving the more enjoyable tasks like pruning the rose bushes or tilling the garden to you.

Don’t forget to stop and take a breather every now and then. Shorts breaks from activity are important; just like in a regular workout. It is also a time to avoid being in the sun for too long.

If you follow a few simple steps you can be fully prepared to tackle all your lawn work. Take some precautionary measures to prevent excess stress on your body related to gardening jobs. If you need some more professional help; find a chiropractor nearest to you.

Happy gardening!

2012 Research: Predictive Factors For Poor Outcome With Sciatica

Predicting Sciatica Outcomes

Sciatica Relief: Looking Into Your Future

I have just finished reading some hot off the press research on sciatica leg pain and low back pain out of Norway. In this study the researchers were trying to see what things they could see could cause a patient with lower back pain and sciatica to not respond well.

The authors came up with some pointers to consider if someone is suffering this trapped nerve in the leg condition. What was also interesting is that back surgery did not have an amazing success rate as they had expected it might. If you or a loved one has a trapped nerve in their back going down the back of the leg, maybe to the foot, you’ll probably like to read this article. Continue reading

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Do You Get Lower Back Pain When You Bend Forward? Here’s the Reason Why

flexion intolerant lower back

Bending Forward a Cause for Low Back Pain

Did you know that a major cause of bad back pain is that our lower backs do not like too much bending forward (flexion). In the medical field it is well-known that in our lower backs, the lumbar discs respond better to bending backward movements rather than bending forward. Particularly in the case of someone with a disc source of back pain.

Today I will be explaining the concept of how too much flexion in our lumbar spines is causing acute lower back pain or chronic lower back in some people. There are two great videos below. One by chiropractor, Craig Liebenson, and the second by low back pain specialist and researcher, Professor Stuart McGill. Find out how Craig, who has studied at the Prague School of Rehabilitation, teaches a female marathon runner how to fix a bad back pain, fast and for the long-term. Continue reading

Lower Back Pain Unable to Bend Over: See This Quick Relief Story

lower back pain unable to bend overI came across a video about lower back pain and sciatica today that is amazing to see the pain relief change in someone so fast. You may have heard of people hobbling into the chiropractor on crutches or being carried in by others only to walk out standing up and in less pain.

The video below shows you one of those times when a patient can come in with severe low back pain and can’t stand up straight then end up leaving the chiropractor being able to walk upright. Continue reading

Maignes Syndrome: Thoracolumbar Junction Syndrome

Maigne SyndromeDid you know your low back pain could be coming from higher up in your spine. In our bodies we experience something called referred pain. Referred pain means the area that is sore could actually be referred pain from somewhere else. This happens all the time in organs referring pain, like a heart attack pain going down your left arm.

However, there are times the answer to your back pain could be from an area in your spine known as the thoracolumbar junction (TL junction). You can get a trapped nerve in this area causing all your pain. Ever wondered which trapped nerve is causing all your back pain? Today I want to let you know about something called Maigne Syndrome or Thoracolumbar Junction Syndrome. Continue reading

How to Prevent Low Back Pain when Lifting

Have you ever experienced low back pain when lifting a weight from the floor. Maybe it wasn’t even a weight your were lifting, you might have just been bending forward to tie your show laces or you were changing your babies nappy and you got a sudden severe low back pain.

Lifting Causing Low Back PainThese are times when a patient would come into the chiropractors office and ask what do you think caused my back pain to start? Well the answer can be hard at times to pinpoint but repetitive bad movement like bending and lifting incorrectly can weaken your lower back. This includes muscles, tendons, ligaments and especially the discs between your vertebrae causing a slipped disc. Today I want to show you some things you should be thinking about how to avoid low back pain when lifting or bending forward. Continue reading

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Sciatic Nerve Pain: Discover the Source of Scaitica

Sciatica Leg Pain

This post is all about one nerve. It is the most important nerve in your leg, the sciatic nerve. Have you been told that you might have sciatica pain running down the back of your thigh all the way into your calf muscle or into the ankle and foot? This is the common trapped nerve in the leg pain lots of people suffer.

You could be feeling a continuous ache or pain that starts from the time you wake up in the morning till the time you eventually fall asleep at night.

To understand the cause of sciatic nerve pain in the leg it is useful to visualise the anatomy of the sciatic nerve. Find out how this big important nerve can cause pain anywhere from the buttock (bum, gluts, hip region), the back of the thigh (hamstring region), behind the knee, along the outside of the lower leg (calf muscle region) into the ankle all the way down to your big toe in your foot. Continue reading

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Piriformis Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes & Rehabilitation Treatment

Piriformis SyndromeDo you have a pain in your left or right butt cheek? Does it feel like you have a trapped nerve in the bum? Maybe you have a sciatica pain going down your leg. Did you know you might be suffering with a bad case of piriformis syndrome? It really is a pain in the bum, excuse the pun.

There are various reasons for pain around the bum and hip region. The sciatic nerve can get trapped at the spine from a herniated disc or arthritis in the spine. The nerve could also get pinched in your buttocks by the piriformis muscle. Athletes like runners and cyclists are prone to this type of sports injury. Find out all about what is Piriformis Syndrome and what to do about it below. Continue reading

Turning Your Discs Blue Could Be Good For Your Low Back Pain

Methylene Blue Low Back Pain Treatment

Low Back Pain Got You Feeling Blue

Yes blue could be the new you of the future after what I read today. In a recent study ¹ on chronic low back pain patients who had back pain coming from a disc in their lower backs were injected with methylene blue. You might know methylene blue from your chemistry “Blue Bottle” experiment in school, it is a very obvious blue.

What made the latest article so interesting was the high pain relief rate those patients had to their discs being injected with methylene blue. So here is a bit more on what is happening in the world on chronic low back pain from your discs. Continue reading

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How I Help My Lower Back Pain

How I helped fix my chronic left lower back painOne of the reasons I wanted to study Chiropractic was because of chronic lower back pain. When I was a teenager at highschool I was very sporty and athletic. I loved moving and playing around as much as possible. If there was a social touch rugby game I was in. I was apart of the school team for rowing, field hockey and athletics. However, ever now and then I would end up with a severe lower back muscle spasm.

Low back pain is so frustrating because it just stops you in your tracks. There is no lump, red spot or visible problem, but it hurts like nothing else. It brings grown men to tears and buckles your knees without warning. So I began my journey on trying to fix my lower back. Today I want to tell you some of the things I have discovered on my lower back pain journey. I have included my personal low back pain tale and 10 lower back pain tips that help me a lot in time of need. Continue reading

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Figure Four Stretch: How to Stretch the Piriformis Muscle

Figure Four Stretch

The Figure Four stretch is one of my all-time favourite piriformis muscle stretches to do, especially for lower back pain and sciatica relief. This is a great lower back exercise to help relieve muscle tension from sitting too long at a desk. It is perfect for when I see someone come into the clinic with a dull ache in their lower back, say from a long car drive, or maybe from sitting for too long in a meeting, plane or train. In these situations is the best time to perform this type of hip stretch.

Well now that I have talked up a storm on my all-time favourite lower back and hip stretch, I guess you’ll want to know how to do it. Today I’m going to show you how to stretch the piriformis muscle in your bum. I have found some videos online showing you how to perform the stretch in three different ways: seated, laying down and standing position.  Continue reading

Really? Women’s High Heels Do Not Cause Low Back Pain

High Heels Cause Lower Back Pain

Are These High Heels to Big For Me?

I came across a very interesting article today asking the question “Does wearing high heels like stilettos cause lower back pain?”

I know, what your probably thinking, yes of course the height of a women’s high heel shoe must cause her back pain. Doesn’t everyone know that? Well that is the common perception from most I would say, but, can we say that is true? Apparently our collective common sense could be wrong in this case. That’s why in today’s post I wanted to look a bit more into the question “will walking in high heels cause lower back pain” and just for fun teach you women, or maybe men, how to walk properly in high-heeled shoes. Oh by the way, I think I have found a picture of the highest heels in the world that you can buy and from here in the UK, wow!

Continue reading

What Exactly Is a Slipped Disc In Your Back?

Slipped Disc Low Back Pain

Watch Out for the Slipped Disc

The dreaded slipped disc in your back pain is something I think most people fear. There are many times a patient will walk into the chiropractors office and say they think they have a slipped disc in their back. They will then say it is the slipped disc that is causing their neck pain or lower back pain.

Today I thought I’d touch on what a slipped disc actually is. It hopefully should help you see if you really do have a problem with the disc in your neck or lower back.

Also if you want to know how bad a slipped disc can be or what type of slipped disc you actually have you can read on below. Continue reading

Slump Test Used to Diagnose and Treat Low Back Pain

slump-test-orthopaedic-test-lumbar-disc-herniation

The Slump Test for Disc Herniation

Ever heard of the slump test for back pain? The slump test is an orthopaedic test commonly performed by a chiropractor, doctors and physical therapists when diagnosing the source of your low back pain. This diagnosis test for lower back and leg pain is mainly used to see if there is either a disc herniation causing a pinched sciatic nerve, or not, in the lumbar spine.

However, the slump test movement can be modified to be used to possible help low back pain as well. I know it is strange to hear the test that can irritate a pain can also fix a pain. That’s why today I want to show how to do the slump test then I will explain why this medical examination test can be used by you, at home or at your work desk, to also get some pain relief from symptoms of sciatica. Continue reading

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Wallet Sciatica: Sitting on a Wallet Can Cause Lower Back Pain and Sciatica

Wallet Sciatica

Check Your Pockets For Wallet Sciatica

Ever heard someone complain of wallet sciatica pain in their bum? Have you ever considered your lower back ache or sciatica symptoms may be caused by your habit of putting your wallet in your back pocket. Personally, it is a habit I have never considered, but for many men I do see that they carry their wallets in the back of their trousers.

Wallet sciatica is also sometimes referred to as hip-pocket syndromewallet neuritis, wallet neuropathy, fat wallet syndrome or credit carditis. At the end of the day it really is a lower back problem called piriformis syndrome.

I will explain below how you can get rid of this type of pain with two cool piriformis stretches. Continue reading

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Back Pain More Condition Symptoms

Straighten-Up-UK-spinal-exercise-back-pain-treatment

Back Pain Exercises

Back pain more conditions_symptoms is what you may ask? Well it is what people are googling for when it comes to back pain information. Do you want to know more about back pain more condition_symptoms?

Back pain can occur in different places on your spine and can be displayed in a variety of symptoms. You could be describing back pain when you have actually have a neck pain, upper back pain, lower back pain or even pain around your shoulder blades. So depending on where you back pain is, the condition causing back pain can vary and so can the symptoms of back pain. However, different back pains do share common causes and the symptoms you could feel with the back pain. So today we will look at some of the shared causes and symptoms of the different areas of back pain causing people to search for “back pain more condition_symptom”. Continue reading

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After Spinal Surgery: How to Predict Repeat of Lumbar Disc Herniations

Low Back Fusion Surgery

Lumbar Fusion Back Surgery

A retrospective study from the November 15th issue of Spine (2009) evaluated radiographs for biomechanical and other health markers that would help identify patients at risk for repeat lumbar disc herniation.

A repeat disc herniation was defined as a herniation of the same disc after a “successful” first surgery where the patient was asymptomatic for a period of at least six months. The study analysed a group of 157 disc surgery patients to determine risk factors that might help predict which patients would have a repeat herniation. Want to know what the researchers found likely to cause you or a loved one who has back surgery to need more surgery in the future. I have the anser for you below. Continue reading

Prague School of Rehabilitation: Low Back Pain Treatment

Today I want to show you a short video on how to treat low back pain from a lumbar disc herniation from the Prague school of rehabilitation. You will get to see what is called conservative low back pain treatment used to help give a patient lower back and leg pain relief from a herniated lumbar disc.

The video is from the Prague School of Rehabilitation which is the home for a treatment technique called Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization. You will get to see a lumbar spine traction and lower back mobilization and relaxation techniques according to Dr Karel Lewit. Continue reading

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Sciatica Symptoms and Medical Definition of Sciatica

Sciatica Symptoms

Sciatica Lumbar Spine MRI

I was surprised today to see that a popular internet search term in Google was for the random phrase: “sciatica more condition_symptoms”. Having seen some of the web pages for this search result I thought people looking for the answer to this question could get a some better information than what is currently available.

I believe people searching the internet for this key phrase are actually looking for a list of sciatica symptoms. So that is exactly what I have written below. I have also included the medical definition of sciatica. This term is so confusing as for a normal person it encompasses pain in the leg usually from a trapped nerve in back. For a chiropractor or medical doctor it is not an actual diagnosis, but more of a descriptive term for a painful leg. Hence the reason for the definition being included with the list of descriptive symptoms.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a symptom and not an actual disease. This is an important statement to remember.

In the public eye sciatica is seen as an actual condition when it is actually just a way of describing a possible pinched nerve in the leg. Symptoms of sciatica are as a result of the irritation to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the major nerve running from your lower back, down the back of your thigh into your lower leg and ending in the foot.

Medical Definition of Sciatica

Here are two official sciatica definitions:

Pain and tenderness at some points of the sciatic nerve, usually caused by a prolapsed intervertebral disk; sciatic neuralgia.

or

Any painful disorder extending from the hip down the back of the thigh and surrounding area.

The second definition is important “Any painful disorder extending from the hip down the back of the thigh and surrounding area“. Basically this means that sciatica can have be more than just an irritation to the sciatic nerve. It covers pain running down the back of the thigh for whatever reason.

List of Sciatica Symptoms

Here are some symptoms of a pinched nerve that you may experience if you think you have sciatica:

  • Buttock pain
  • Pain down the back of the leg
  • Pain around your hip
  • Hip pain
  • Pain in your lower leg
  • Calf pain
  • Pins and needles in your feet
  • Numb toes
  • Weakness of your leg
  • Buckling knee
  • Pain in your back when standing

This list is so long because sciatica symptoms can include any feeling from around from the lower back region, hip, thigh, upper leg, lower leg, ankle and foot.

It is best to always go see your local chiropractor or medical doctor for advise if you are experiencing any these symptoms. In the meantime you can also read my next list of sciatica pain relief exercises and treatments. I hope this helped answer the question you were looking for.

Image Credit: Some rights reserved by gruntzooki

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Trapped Nerve in Leg: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

How to fix a pinched nerve going down the in leg causing sciaticaDo you think you may have trapped a nerve in your leg? Are you feeling confused why you might have a pain going down the back of your thigh? Is it a severe either deep ache or stabbing pain in the butt? Do you might pinched a nerve causing your problem? I know so many questions to try answer.

If you can associate with some of those questions then you might have sciatica. Leg pain is a common thing to hear people complaining about. It can be either in their left leg or right leg.

If you are doing some online research for some pain relief tips or exercises you have come to the right page. Learn what is this condition so many people suffer with around the world everyday. I have looked at what you can do for sciatica pain relief treatment with some tips on basic sciatica exercises. Learn what treatment options you have and try out the 11 useful tips at the end to help yourself today. Continue reading