Gardening season is under way in Minnesota, and many will be rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty this weekend! Gardening can be a healthy cardiovascular activity; it can also improve flexibility and strength. We also garden as a form of stress relief, vitamin D and an outlet for creativity. The results of your hard work can be very satisfying.
Gardening, while a great form of mental and physical exercise, is a repetitive activity which can result in soreness. Due to the repeated and prolonged positions of gardening, patients often complain of pain in the back, neck and knees. Here are a few suggestions to help mitigate soreness and keep you in the garden all summer long!
Start with a Plan
- Start with smaller projects and build gradually.
- Tackling tasks all at once can lead to overuse injuries.
- Determine a timeline of tasks to be completed over several days.
Get the Gear
- Hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, and water bottles will keep you safe, hydrated, cool and happy.
- Garden carts/wheelbarrows are useful to move tools and heavy planting materials.
- Knee pads/pillows or gardening stools will reduce pressure on the knees and back.
Get Moving Before You Garden
- Start with a brisk 10 minute walk to warm up the upper and lower back, neck arms and legs.
- Perform dynamic stretches such as shoulder rolls, arm circles, walking lunges with torso twist.
Change Positions Frequently
- Work for 15-20 minutes in one position then switch to another to avoid soreness/fatigue in one muscle group.
- Work in a variety of positions each gardening session, i.e. standing, sitting, kneeling.
Give Your Knees & Back a Break
- Try kneeling on one knee and keep the other foot on the ground.
- Utilize elevated planters if kneeling is not an option due to back or knee pain.
- Plant containers of flowers within a large plantar to avoid repeated bending.
- Consider our recommended gear, such as knee / gardening pads and stools.
Maintain Good Posture
- Break up heavy lifting by dividing mulch/plants into smaller amounts.
- 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.
- Move your feet or pivot on your toes to turn your full body as one unit.
- Work in short stints, building in breaks to prevent aches and pains.
- Slow down, stretch or switch to a different task if you feel sore.
Keep Moving After Your Garden
- End your gardening session a short walk and light stretching.
Gardening is a rewarding hobby for all ages and levels of health to enjoy. If you have any questions or concerns on how to safely return to gardening after a winter’s hibernation or are experiencing pain upon returning to your garden a consultation with a physical therapist may be beneficial.
- A Physical Therapist’s Guide To Gardening - May 15, 2020
- When Should I Be Concerned About My Low Back Pain? 9 Red Flags - May 6, 2020