How To Garden With Chronic Back Pain: Some Helpful Tips from Our Pros!

It looks like Summer is actually here, which means it’s finally time to get your garden in order. Gardening can be one of Summer’s greatest activities. Although it’s a low impact activity, it can still cause a lot of back pain. Use these tips to lower your back pain when gardening.

Warm up

  • Before Gardening Back Stretches: These can also be done during or after gardening. Any exercise or back stretches should be done slowly and without strain. If you feel pain, stop. 
  • Do three to six back-bends, slowly, with no discomfort. This extends the spine, which is the opposite of forward bending, counters gravity and prevents posture collapse. You can place your palms near the base of the spine to ensure that you’re not bending back too far. Always do this within your comfort.

While Gardening

  • Do not garden for longer than 20-30 minutes at a time.
  • Every five minutes or so, stand up and perform the easy back-bends from the waist as described above.
  •  Avoid standing and bending forward from the waist. Use your knees to bend. For weeding: 
  • Set both knees on a pad;
  • Support yourself with one hand; 
  • Keep your neck in a normal position and your back as straight as possible; and 
  • Use the other hand for gardening! (Switch hands when one gets tired)
  • If you’re lifting something heavy, such as a box of peat moss, bend the knees and hips, keeping your back straight, and grasp the object with both hands. Lift close to your body as you straighten your knees. 
  • You should discontinue gardening immediately if back pain progresses to aching, tingling, or numbness in the buttocks or legs. These can be signs of too much pressure on one or more of the lumbar discs.

Post-Gardening

Even with doing all of the above, you could still end up with some lower back pain after gardening – but not to worry!

  • Hot or cold compresses can alleviate pain. Both work, however cold is preferred if there’s swelling. 
  • Over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen and paracetamol (Tylenol) can help, but remember that taking more than the recommended dosage can cause GI upset and bleeding, and even increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • If your pain persists past a few days, or if for any reason you are concerned, consult a physiotherapist for specific assistance related to your back.


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