Gardening can be a great hobby and form of exercise.  There can even be something therapeutic about working in the soil and nurturing plants, plus the reward of enjoying your labours – flowers, or fruit and vegetables.  Gardening can also be hard on the body – repetitive twisting and bending can be hard on the back and knees.  Pulling weeds and hoeing can lead to sore shoulders and hands.  Sometimes gardening can involve bending over for a prolonged time, and you are left with an aching back, and sore joints.  Here are a few tips for Gardening that can help prevent back and joint problems, and make gardening an injury-free, painless experience.

Gardening tips to help prevent back pain:

Warm Up Your Muscles to Reduce the Risk of Pack Pain

First of all, make sure you are ready to work.  Muscles should be warmed up – stretches are a good way to prepare for the work ahead.  A short walk can help the muscles warm up and increase the blood flow to the muscles to help prevent injury and soreness. 

There are ways to adapt your movements and positions to reduce joint strain. If possible, avoid bending from the waist.  Try to squat, or work with knees slightly bent, and use your leg muscles rather than your back muscles to do the work.

Adaptive Equipment Such as Stools Can Help Protect Your Back and Joints

Kneeling stools can be a great way to prevent back strain. They can be used in sitting or kneeling, and often fold up.  Some have handles to help with getting up from kneeling.

If you are lifting, use both hands and keep loads close to the body.  If possible, use a wagon or wheelbarrow to transport heavier objects.    

Some of the gardening and hardware stores carry adaptive tools with larger grips which protect arthritic hands and make things easier. Cushioned grips and looped handles can put less strain on the wrist.  Long handled tools can also make work easier in that you don’t have to bend over. 

Take Breaks and Pace Yourself, Your Back Will Thank You!

Lastly, pace yourself and change tasks often while gardening, to minimize repetitive injuries.  Take breaks, hydrate and stretch!  If you have a history of back and/or joint problems, a Physical Therapist can help you, by prescribing specific stretches and giving advice that would benefit you, and prevent injury.   

Contact your Physical Therapist for more information on how to protect your back while gardening. If you do not currently have a physical therapist, you can find our contact information and book an appointment with us at this link. Happy gardening!