Ah, this phrase meant so much to me when I was a young lad at school. Matthew Mullen, another young inspiringly butch lad, yet non intimidating whatsoever, would tell me I had to do “watch my back” as he was threatening to do something which was unsaid! Little did I know how those words would carry on as a phrase to remember for years to come! As I have suffered with slipped disks and spent weeks out of action in my early 20’s, I always try to Watch My Back as I carry on my daily activities. As an avid gardener myself, it is vital that I watch out. If I couldn’t spend but one day in my beloved garden, pruning the shrubs, raking the fallen leaves and trimming the lawn I would be most displeased. Here’s a few handy pieces of information and reminders to help you look after your back health and stay safe while gardening.

Posture Position

Never underestimate the value of keeping a straight spine as you lift, bend and reach. You really can do some damage if you strain your spine and the long term effects are also worth considering. Research has proven that if your posture is not correct, your spine is weakened and is at far greater risk of damage when in movement. The golden rule to bend your knees is simple and yet many of us forget when lifting items. Make a conscious effort to “think before you lift”! Lift slowly and straight. I have found it much easier by far to have a flatbed trolley handy for when I need to move items in my garden. I purchased mine online from flatbed-truck.co.uk and have found it most helpful in saving myself from unnecessary lifting and strain on my back. When attending to your beds and ridding your beds of weeds you again need to beware of your posture and how you position your spine. Try to maintain the spinal straightness and avoid crouching for long periods. Use knee pads also if kneeling on paved areas in your garden as this can cause havoc in later years as I have found out the hard way. Trust me you don’t want to learn from experience on this one, just buy the blasted knee pads and save your knees!

Maintaining Spinal Health

One of the easiest ways to help your back stay supple and flexible is really simple. It is something that you might think unnecessary and too basic to have any effect. Yet it really works and is proven to do so as I have researched and experienced myself. Water! Drink more water. Most of us do not get enough hydration in our bodies and as they are made up of over 70% water, the spine needs water to be able to function correctly and stay flexible. Try aiming for 1.5 litres a day if possible. Cut down on the odd earl grey or latte as caffeine can dehydrate your body’s water content. “Think drink” as you water your Begonias, for just as plants need water, so do we!

Try and exercise your spine with gentle Pilates too, I have found this to be of great benefit as a spine strength booster. It helps your posture too.

So remember these tips while you spend time in the garden and never underestimate the need to do as I did and heed the warning, “You’d Better Watch your Back”!