Gardening Tips for Spring

Deborah Chen

By Deborah Chen

Registered Physiotherapist (APA Member)

Posted on: 03/11/2020

Spring has sprung and everyone is back in their yards, tidying up for the Summer to come and with gardening comes a lot of repetitive bending or kneeling to plant and pull weeds or mow lawns. Gardening movements may bring on some old or new lower back pain or knee pain so I thought I’d put some simple tips together to help avoid common injuries.

1. Weeding

Most people will want to squat over or kneel but weeding is often a long arduous task (if you’ve seen my lawn, you’ll know why I don’t weed!) and long periods of kneeling or squatting bending over will often make the front of your knees feel stiff and tight. This is usually because your thigh muscles are tight. One of the things that may help is a kneeling pad (foam pad) or sitting on a small stool. This will help unload your joints. It’s also ideal to get up and have a little walk around every 20-30min and do a few lean backs for your lower back. If your thigh muscles are feeling tight using a massage stick to help relax the muscles before and after gardening can help to loosen them up.

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2. Mowing lawns

If you’ve got a traditional lawn mower and a luscious thick green lawn, think about your back posture when you lean over to push the mower and also when emptying the catcher. Think about bracing your lower abdominals, bending your knees and hinging from the hips. One way to feel if you can engage your lower abdominals  is to stand with your back against a wall, make sure you can feel your lower back against the wall and bring your ribs down so you can feel the back of the ribs against the wall as well, this should trigger your lower abdominals to switch on very gently. Try maintaining that feeling in your lower abs as you then hinge or bend forward from your hips away from the wall while also keeping your lower back in a neutral position.

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The big three takeaways when gardening are

1. Take regular breaks – every 20-30min take 2-3min to change postures

2. Hinge from the hips

3. Use a foam pad or small squat stool if you’re going to be down low for extended periods of time

Bonus tip – slip, slop, slap!

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