How to Avoid Back Pain While Gardening

It’s finally Spring time and that means it’s also gardening season! Back pain can throw a wrench into the joy of gardening for many, but that doesn’t mean you need to cross it off your list! With a few adaptations and a dash of creativity, you can still exercise that green thumb by following these 11 strategies for minimizing injury.

Safe Moves for Your Back

Here are several tips on gardening in a way that is relatively gentle on your back:

  1. Warm up first
    Gardening can be a real workout, so warming up your muscles first is a good idea. Try a brisk five-minute walk and some stretching exercises. If you have back pain, then work with your physician or other health care provider to find the right stretches for you.

  2. Lift carefully
    It's easy to lift heavy pots, bushes, and full watering cans incorrectly and damage your back.

    To lift correctly, begin by squatting, not bending at your waist. Use both hands to hold the object, keeping it close to your body, and slowly straighten your legs as you lift.

    To minimize lifting, use a wagon, a dolly, or other aid to carry heavy items from place to place. Fill large watering cans just halfway, and consider alternative watering options, such as soaker hoses or automated irrigation systems.

    Depending on your back problem, some jobs that involve heavy lifting and twisting may be best left to others.

  3. Take breaks
    It’s easy to lose track of time when you love being out in the yard. Take a water bottle with you as a reminder to take frequent breaks.If you’ve been in one position for a while, do some stretches during these breaks. Also, avoid doing the same kind of job, such as pruning, for a long period. Switch to something else for a while.

  4. Get support from kneelers and chairs 
    Getting down on the ground—and back up—can be painful or even impossible, depending on your level of pain and flexibility. Heavy-duty kneelers, especially those with raised, padded handles to help you get up and down, allow you to use your arm strength to aid in the process. Kneelers usually include a well-cushioned base to reduce stress and impact on your knees and back. Many kneelers also convert to a low chair.

  5. Use garden scooters to avoid twisting
    Stretching and twisting put added stress on the joints and discs in your spine. One way to minimize twisting is to use a wheeled scooter. Scooters range in size from small scooters made to fit in tight garden spaces to larger scooters with baskets.

Have any other gardening tips that will keep back pain at bay? Drop them in the comments below!