Common gardening activities, such as digging, planting, weeding, mulching, and raking can cause stress and strain on muscles and joints.
The following tips can help you minimize these aches and pains:
1. Get moving before you garden.
A 10-minute brisk walk and stretches for the spine and limbs are good ways to warm up.
2. Change positions frequently to avoid stiffness or cramping.
Be aware of how your body feels as you work in your garden. If a part of your body starts to ache, take a break, stretch that body part in the opposite direction it was in, or switch to a different gardening activity. For example, if you've been leaning forward for more than a few minutes, and your back starts to ache, slowly stand up, and gently lean backward a few times.
3. Use a garden cart or wheelbarrow to move heavy planting materials or tools.
Lift with your knees and use good posture while moving a cart or wheelbarrow.
4. Give your knees a break.
Use knee pads or a gardening pad. If kneeling or leaning down to the ground causes significant pain in your back or knees, consider using elevated planters to do your gardening. If kneeling on both knees causes discomfort in your back, try kneeling on one and keep the other foot on the ground.
5. Maintain good posture.
Use good body mechanics when you pick something up or pull on something, such as a weed. Bend your knees, tighten your abdominals, and keep your back straight as you lift or pull things. Avoid twisting your spine or knees when moving things to the side; instead, move your feet or pivot on your toes to turn your full body as one unit.
6. Take breaks.
If you haven't done gardening or other yard work in a while, plan to work in short stints, building in time for breaks before you start feeling aches and pains.
7. Keep moving after you garden.
End your gardening session with some gentle backward bending of your low back, a short walk and light stretching, similar to stretches done before starting.
If your aches and pains aren't managed with these tips and discomfort lingers, a physical therapist can help. Learn about the benefits of physical therapy.
Physical therapists are movement experts. They improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation. To find a physical therapist in your area, visit Find a PT.