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Prevent Back Pain When Gardening

Dr. Arnan Sisson, PT

Gardening in the spring and summer – as you’ll be doing right now – can cause problems: But how can you prevent back pain when gardening?

It’s a common issue many people, especially those aged 65+, can suffer from. Gardening works many muscles and joints, involving a wide range of motions (standing, bending over, crouching, leaning, stretching, and lifting).

But just because we are 65+, this doesn’t mean that we should stop doing the things we love – you can stay independent in retirement!

Prevent Back Pain When Gardening By Warming Up

To help prevent back pain when gardening while you improve your lawn and borders, warm up first. Yes, it may sound surprising – after all, you are not running a marathon! – but it’s important to stretch your muscles before you start digging and pruning.

It’s easy to think of gardening as something sedentary and relaxing, but in one session you will put your body through a full bodywork!

Doing a warm-up will help you prevent back pain when gardening.

You’ll be using many different muscles and joints and it’s important to recognize that you need to prepare your body in the same way you would if you were about to go out for a bike ride or play tennis.

The first thing you should do in the garden isn’t dig, but do some stretching and simple exercises to warm up your back, shoulders, arms, and legs.  

You should also do it when you have finished your work.

Next up, stretch your waist and core muscles by reaching your hands above your head. Again, feet hip distance apart, grab your right wrist with your left hand and stretch/bend to the left side, then hold for 20 seconds. On each out-breath, stretch a little more, and on each in-breath release a little. Repeat on the opposite side.

Now stretch your shoulders and upper arms. Stand up and cross your right arm over your chest, grasping it just above the elbow with your left hand. You’ll feel a great stretch and should hold this for 20 seconds, taking deep breaths, before repeating it on the other side.

Prevent Back Pain When Gardening By Being Aware Of How You Bend And Lift

Whatever you are carrying, lifting, or moving from one place to another, it’s important to be aware of how you should lift and carry things while you garden… a high percentage of back pain is directly related to carrying something heavy!

And while bending over to do the groundwork, think about your position.

Your starting position must be crouching, with your legs bent at the knees and your back straight.

Ensure you carry heavier items low down and pressed against your body so that there is less leverage on your back.

While tending to your lawn, don’t crouch or bend over, as it will force your spine into an unnatural position; instead, aim to kneel. You can use a gardening mat to kneel on. Have one knee down on the ground and the other raised, and switch sides regularly to alleviate any pressure.

Use a wheelbarrow where you can, to carry loads more safely.

How about this slice of common sense: If something you are lifting (a watering can or bag of garden waste) is heavy, then fill it up halfway and do multiple trips rather than risk straining your back.

Specialized Gardening Tools Can Help You Prevent Back Pain When Gardening

You can prevent back pain while gardening by using specialist tools. They are designed to ease the strain on your back and joints.

Wheelbarrows are designed to make loading and unloading garden waste much easier and enable you to move your hanging baskets and plant pots more safely.

Long-handled tools can make weeding, trimming, and picking up garden waste much easier on your back, avoiding the need to stretch or bend over repeatedly.

Many people now use garden kneelers, often designed with special handles to help you when getting up and down. Some of them even convert into low stools as well which eliminates the need to crouch or bend down.

Take Regular Breaks And Stretch To Prevent Back Pain When Gardening

We all want a coffee break now and again – after all, it’s a way of life! So it’s important to take regular breaks if you want to prevent back pain after gardening. It’s easy to get carried away, time passes by without you realizing when you are so immersed in making your garden the envy of your neighbors that you forget to take a rest. A good idea is to set a timer on your phone to take a break every 30 minutes. Enjoy your cup of coffee and walk around to see the improvements!

And once you’ve finished for the day, take 10 minutes to stretch the muscles in your neck, shoulders, arms, back, and legs. Stretching after any strenuous physical activity is proven to help muscles recover and repair.

Fastest Way To Prevent Back Pain When Gardening

If you are fed up with lower back pain wrecking your weekend plans, then our team is here to help you.

To find out how our physical therapy specialists can give you fast relief from aches and pains, then arrange a FREE Discovery Visit with an expert PT at our Montross clinic.

Other Resources To Prevent Back Pain

Our founder, leading NNK physical therapist, and author has written a FREE downloadable report for anyone who is suffering from back pain and wants to know…

“How to Put an End to Back Pain and Stiffness – Without Taking Painkillers, Without Risking Surgery, and Without Having to Wait to See the GP!”

Download Your Free Back Report

Or check out our other fantastic blogs packed with helpful advice from our expert physical therapy team.

Read Our Blog – Two Simple Ways to Ease Back Pain On Couch

Read Our Blog – Your First Aid Kit to Back Pain

Read Our Blog – Best Exercise to Strengthen Your Back

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