21 September 2018

Back in the Garden

As the weather warms up, many Australians will step outside and give their garden a good ‘spring clean’. Bending over seeding, weeding and watering, the hours can quickly slip by. As you tend to the garden that may have been neglected over the winter, make sure not to neglect your spinal health.

More than 3.7 million Australians have back pain or similar problems according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.1 Prevalence of back pain increases if you are over 55 years old.

It’s easy to understand how back pain can arise from our pursuits in the garden if we don’t undertake these activities in the right way, especially if we haven’t been gardening much in recent months. Any infrequent activity should be prefaced by a few minutes preparing yourself both physically and mentally.

Here are some simple steps to help you avoid injury from maintaining improper posture as you work on the garden this spring:

Common Posture Problems

Dowager’s Hump (increased kyphosis)
In older people, it has been found that the greater the postural issue of Dowager’s Hump (or kyphosis) the greater the odds of experiencing difficulties in activities such as bending, walking or climbing.2

Round Shoulders
Hunched over a garden weeding or planting can result in the condition commonly referred to as Round Shoulders, which is distinguished by the hunched over appearance it produces.

Uneven or rotated hips
Twisting to shift dirt from a wheelbarrow to a garden, or to pull out and pile up weeds can lead to issues with uneven or rotated hips.

In severe cases, long term bad posture can lead to Scoliosis, a condition that results in the spine twisting from left to right, instead of running in a straight line from top to bottom. Depending on the severity, scoliosis of the spine can have a detrimental impact on vital organs, such as your heart, liver and kidneys.

Correcting Posture

The good news is that postural issues can be corrected, and even, in some instances reversed.3,4

In the first instance, give your posture a sporting chance. By preparing before you enter the garden and having a few simple rules in mind, you can minimise your chance of experiencing some of these common gardening afflictions. Our Gardening Tips offer a guide to some of these rules.

And aside from using the correct posture and tools, take frequent breaks and walk around and stretch, as staying in the same position for too long can contribute to a sore back later that night or the next morning.5

Visit your local ACA chiropractor for more information on how they can help improve your quality of life.

1Australia’s Health 2018 (AIHW). aihw.gov.au., 2018. Web.
2 Kado, D.M., Huang, M-H., Barrett-Connor, E., Greendale, G.A. (2005) Hyperkyphotic Posture and Poor Physical Functional Ability in Older Community-Dwelling Men and Women: The Rancho Bernardo Study. Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences. 60(5), 633-637
3 Payne, M.R. (2010). Why Posture Matters (part III). The American Chiropractor (March 2010).
4 Kirk, R., Franz, R., Hoirlis, K., Stiles, A. (2010). Effects of a Short Trial of Posture Exercises on Forward Head and Forward Shoulder Posture in Healthy Adults. Life University. The Journal of Chiropractic Education, Vol 24, 1, 2010.
5 Bean, P. (2009). Ecollo website. Retrieved march 14th 2010 from http://www.ecollo.com/post/2009/03/Common-gardening-injuries-and-how-to-avoid-them.aspx