It has been a long winter here in New England! Many of us are excited to get outside and work in our yards. We are seeing a lot of sore backs in our office from our clients doing too much yard work, too soon. If you are an avid gardener or are cleaning up your yard, here are some simple ideas from “Feel Great While Gardening ” to get all the yardwork done without pain.

Here are 5 strategies for pain-free gardening:

1.) Set attainable goals. We’ve all been in this position: On the one weekend you have completely free, you plan to turn the soil and plant all of your spring garden before sundown on Sunday. No matter how you feel by Saturday afternoon. Don’t fall into this trap. Instead, set modest goals for each portion of the day and assess your progress and how you feel every couple of hours.

2.) Pace yourself. Remember that story about the tortoise and the hare? You will work longer and stronger if you go at a task steadily than if you push to finish a big project.

3.) Take breaks. Every hour, give yourself 5 minutes to stretch, sit down, and drink to replenish the fluids lost from your exertion. You’ll more than compensate for those idle 5 minutes with increased productivity during the other 55 minutes of the hour. Place chairs in the shade around your garden so you are reminded to relax in them.

4.) Beware of bending and reaching. Physical therapists, chiropractors, and other experts in the field will tell you that you are most vulnerable to injury when you are bending at the waist and reaching. You’re also more prone to losing your balance and falling in this position. If you must bend, do so with your knees rather than your back. And position yourself close enough to your task so that you are not reaching. Even pulling weeds puts more strain on your lower back than you realize.

5.) Listen to your body. Professional athletes get paid to play with pain. But you garden because it’s fun (remind yourself of that next time you are struggling to pull an especially resistant weed). When you are hurting, your body is sending you a message to back off. Pay attention, and you can count on completing your to-do list this season, and for years to come.

Take care of yourself while gardening to avoid injury. We believe that everyone should live with less pain!

One last thing…