Gardening Made Easier

Gardening can be both a relaxing hobby, and highly rewarding. Even still, the physical demands simply cannot be ignored. Gardeners will commonly experience pain and discomfort in their neck, shoulders, lower back, and knees after spending hours in the garden. However, with a few simple gardening tips, you can reduce your risk of injury and make this hobby a much more pleasant experience without the pain.

Here are some gardening tips for getting down and dirty in your favorite green space without all the pain: 

Neck/Shoulder Pain

Gardeners tend to experience pain in the neck and shoulders much more commonly. The use of large rakes, shovels, and other tools that do not necessarily fit your body can only make this pain worse.

To take the stress off your neck and shoulders, consider using more manageable tools with smaller handles. This will bring the weight of the tool closer to your body and reduce the amount of force you need to apply. If you are tall, a longer shovel shaft may be better for you. This way, there is less of a need to bend over as often. In addition, be sure to pace yourself and take breaks when you need them. Do not carry heavy bags of mulch, fertilizer, etc. Instead, make more trips with lighter loads. This may seem like it is taking longer, but you will be gaining time in the garden by avoiding injury or over-exerting yourself. 

Lower Back Pain

The lower back is another area that can be prone to pain and discomfort while gardening. Many people bend over for prolonged periods of time when gardening. This can cause a great deal of pain, especially when going back to normal activity. This can become an even larger problem if you have disc herniations in your lower back.

To prevent lower back pain, one of the most important gardening tips is to level with your work. Use a chair or bucket where you are working so your spinal position is better with less stress. Also, remember the old expression to lift with your legs and not with your back. Hold the object close to you, and move in more of a “squat style” to reduce stress on the back by bending at the knees and hips, rather than just the back. Remember to always use proper lifting techniques to avoid injury.

Knee Pain

Knee pain can also be a common issue for gardeners. This can be especially true when kneeling on hard surfaces or squatting down for lengthy periods.

To protect your knees, use industrial knee pads if at all possible. These pads can be purchased from home improvement stores, like Home Depot or Lowe’s. Industrial pads add cushioning that provides relief if you absolutely need to kneel. You might also consider sitting on an elevated seat and bending at the hips to perform your work. This will save your knees and back from unnecessary strain. Finally, consider the movement pattern you are using when gardening. A hip hinge is a hip-dominant movement that allows for less bend and stress on the knees, whereas a squat utilizes more motion from the knees. If you have knee pain caused by increased bending, the hip hinge movement may be a better fit for you.

Physical Therapy Can Help

Gardening can be a truly wonderful way to connect with nature and stay active. However, it can also take a toll on your body if you are not careful. By following these gardening tips and tricks, you can reduce your risk of pain and injury and enjoy your time in the garden pain-free. Remember to take breaks as often as you need, use a proper lifting technique, and choose tools that are manageable for your body size and strength.

But if a little help is needed to get you back on track, call Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab at 570-208-2787 or email us at