How to Protect Your Back When You Garden

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Have you ever been injured gardening or farming? If you are regularly landscaping your house or tending to your crops, chances are you have. Farming and gardening can be a great way to stay healthy, but it can also lead to long-term injuries if proper techniques are not being used. Proper posture, nutrition and daily exercise can help alleviate muscle soreness and increase your quality of life, as well as increasing the amount of work you can do on a daily basis. Whether or not farming or gardening is your primary source of income, preventing injuries and staying healthy is essential to stay productive.

To better understand the daily strain farmers undergo, our dietetic intern, Cameron Forbes, recently prepared a plot of land for a local farmer to plant rhubarb. He weeded and dug holes for rhubarb transplants on multiple 150-foot rows. While he was only in the field around two hours, Cameron quickly realized the strain on his lower back would endure if he were to have improper posture, placing the load on his lower back and hamstrings. Many people have a tendency to bend down to pick up things without the use of their legs, placing the majority load on their lower back. However, there are quick and easy fixes for this, but you must constantly practice in order to form habits.

Cameron caught himself bending over from my lower back without hip movement (this will be reviewed in detail at the Farmer Strong workshop!) and his back began getting tight within 20 minutes. Once Cameron realized what he was doing, he was able to correct it and his back tightness was not as severe. There is no magical stance, exercise, or food that will take away soreness. You will be sore from farming or gardening if you do it long enough, but soreness and pain are completely different. Soreness can be alleviated through active recovery and proper nutrition. Pain will stay with you until the source of the pain has completely healed.

If you have ever wondered how to farm and garden safely without worrying about injuring yourself, we will be having a workshop to teach you safe posture, daily exercises and proper nutrition that may help alleviate soreness or pain that farming or gardening has caused you. Join us on Monday, October 9th at the Newton office of Catawba County Co-Op Extension for a morning session from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. or our evening session from 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.