Skip to Content
216.861.6200

Back and Neck Pain Don’t Have to Keep You Out of the Garden

By Maureen Nagg on 
Posted on May 17, 2021

Back and Neck Pain Don’t Have to Keep You Out of the Garden

To schedule a consultation, call 440-248-1297.

Robert F. McLain, M.D., a spine surgeon in the Spine and Orthopedic Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, has more than 20 years of experience in disc replacement surgery, and has served as an instructor and educator in disc replacement surgical training, as Principal Investigator for an FDA cervical disc replacement clinical trial, and provides both lumbar and cervical disc replacement to carefully selected patients who need those procedures. 

 

4 Tips to Prevent Aches and Pain from Gardening 

With signs of spring upon us, gardeners eagerly return to work, prepping their beds and yards for warmer weather. But, sometimes, returning to gardening too early after a neck or back surgery or not adhering to proper mechanics can leave you in pain, unable to finish the job. St. Vincent Charity spine surgeon Robert McLain, M.D. encourages gardeners to use four simple steps to prevent back and neck pain from keeping you from the activity you love.

“As patients, gardeners worry me a bit because they are never going to stop gardening and they often go back to before they are ready after a neck or back injury or surgery,” Dr. McLain said. “Fortunately, though, gardeners are also highly motivated, active people who will do whatever it takes to get them back to the garden. If they follow a few simple steps, most are very successful.”

What do you need to know to take care of your back or neck while working your garden?

1. Utilize Proper Bending Mechanics

In practice, gardeners are always a little bent over as they are looking at the ground as they work. Even if you are just standing there leaning over, Dr. McLain said, your back and neck muscles are working and, over time, they will get sore. A few simple tips:

  • Always remember to lift with your knees.
  • Sit down on kneel to work.
  • Don’t bend over at the waist to pick materials up. If you do have to bend and reach for something, support yourself. Put weight down on one hand and reach with the other hand to pull whatever you need, to wherever you are. Then bend your knees and lift up.
  • If you have bad knees, bad hips or a bad back, don’t lift more than you can manage. Break things up into smaller loads and make more trips. Soil and fertilizer can be moved in a smaller bucket instead of a 40-pound bag or shoveled into your wheelbarrow. Move pots and plants separately and move heavy items, pots, planters, bags on a trolley.
  • And, finally, Dr. McLain cautions, never try to remove a root, rock or pipe in your yard or garden through pure brute strength – you WILL hurt yourself.

2. Avoid Twisting 

Twisting adds stress on the discs in your spine. To avoid unnecessary strain on your back, be sure to:

  • Avoid getting impatient and start twisting and reaching to get the job done faster.
  • As you move something from point to point, take a step or two as you rotate and, then, set the object down.
  • Use a wheeled scooter to move objects from one place to another.

3. Don’t Overwork Your Back

When you first get back to activity after injury or after surgery – or even if you have been out of action for a while – it is easy to overdo it. To prevent strain to your back and neck, follow these tips:

  • Don’t tackle a whole day’s work without getting into shape for it.
  • Start with 30 minutes of work. Then, stop, rest and reassess. If you feel stiff and sore, take a break or consider stopping for the day.
  • If you feel OK, then do a couple of hours of work and reassess again. If your back starts feeling like it’s knotting up or getting sore, knock it off for the day and come back tomorrow.

4. Know How to Treat Aches and Pain

Gardening is a valuable passion for people of all ages to keep us healthy and active, but it is also physical and leave our muscles fatigued and sore. It is important no matter your age to know what you need to do to calm those muscular aches and pains down. Remember to:

  • Stretch after you finish work to help ward off any pain and stiffness.
  • Ice the area where you get tightness and pain for at least 30 minutes after you stop working.
  • Utilize anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, to reduce pain by reducing the swelling that causes it. While acetaminophen is a good pain reliever, it doesn’t reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Do not rely on opioids or pain killers.
  • Rely on regular exercise to get and stay fit with a good walking or a back physical therapy program before taking up a major gardening project.

Dr. McLain adds that some patients, even if following proper methods, do need back and neck surgery at some point to get back into the yard.

“But don’t be alarmed,” he said. “Back and neck surgery does not mean the end of the activity if done right for the right reasons. I am going to give you great results, medically or surgically, so you can get back to the garden safely.”


To schedule a consultation with Dr. Robert McLain, call 440-248-1297.

 

To schedule a consultation, call 440-248-1297.

Robert F. McLain, M.D., a spine surgeon in the Spine and Orthopedic Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, has more than 20 years of experience in disc replacement surgery, and has served as an instructor and educator in disc replacement surgical training, as Principal Investigator for an FDA cervical disc replacement clinical trial, and provides both lumbar and cervical disc replacement to carefully selected patients who need those procedures. 

 

Tags:


Categories:


Recent posts

Leadership transition signals new era of Catholic health ministry from Sisters of Charity Health System

Leadership transition signals new era of Catholic health ministry from Sisters of Charity Health System

The Sisters of Charity Health System (SCHS) today announced its president & CEO, Thomas J. Strauss, will step down from his position effective December 31, 2021, after five years of dedicated service to the mission and ministry of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine. Janice G. Murphy, MSN, FACHE, will step into the role of president & CEO of SCHS effective January 1, 2022. Succeeding Murphy as president of St. Vincent Charity Medical Center is Dr. Adnan Tahir, currently senior vice president/chief clinical and administrative officer for the hospital. He, too, will take on his new role on January 1, 2022.
Read More
Intermittent fasting pros and cons

Intermittent fasting pros and cons

Intermittent fasting was Google's second most searched diet in 2020 and the most searched diet in 2019. But is the intermittent fasting diet just another fad diet or is it a legitimate long-term option for healthy living? Staci Cortelezzi, registered dietitian in the Center for Bariatric Surgery, offers advice for those curious about this diet trend.
Read More
Shoulder replacements, their effectiveness are on the rise

Shoulder replacements, their effectiveness are on the rise

It wasn’t that long ago when patients who did not find relief through conventional treatments for shoulder pain were forced to resign themselves to a life with pain and limited mobility. Particularly for those with rotator cuff tears and advanced arthritis, options were limited. Fortunately, recent advancements in implants and surgical techniques provide hope for life beyond pain and restored function. In fact, shoulder replacement is now the fastest growing joint replacement surgery in the country, with nearly 70,000 performed each year.
Read More