How To Prevent Lower Back Pain While Gardening

Why Do Gardeners Commonly Experience Back Pain?

Gardening can be strenuous with its bending, lifting, twisting, and squatting. These motions can lead to awkward positions that can strain the muscles in the lower back. Prolonged use of gardening tools, like shovels, rakes, hoes, and gardening shears, can lead to your lower back becoming physically exerted. Lugging heavy bags—10- to 50-pound bags—of mulch, topsoil, or moss; each with unstable and shifting weight can also pull or strain back muscles.

Are There Ways to Solve Back Pain Problems?

Whether your back pain began before you took up gardening or because of it, you can start taking better care of your back while you garden by following these tips:

  • Bend at the knees instead of the waist when lifting heavy bags to prevent back injuries, particularly when you are lifting heavy items. If you’re at a gardening supply center or store, ask for employee assistance within the store and at your car.
  • Use wheelbarrows and garden carts to wheel heavy items like pots and watering cans from one place to the other.
  • Use kneeling pads with heavy-duty or memory foam to cushion your knees.
  • Use kneelers or low chairs for sitting while gardening.
  • Use big or small garden scooters, which help movement and bring you closer to the ground without additionally pressuring your lower back and core for stability.
  • Long-handled tools that allow you to garden while standing and are ergonomic and easy to use.
  • Check root depths before pulling weeds or small shrubs. Underestimating deeply rooted plants can put unexpected and added pressure on your back and spine.
  • Plan your tasks within the garden and take frequent breaks to stand, walk, or sit. Moderation is the key. After every 20-30 minutes of work, take a break.
  • Stay hydrated, which is very important if when working in the sun.

Stretch Before and After Gardening

Much like any other exercise, warm your body up before gardening for extended periods. Aim to work your back, knees, arms, shoulders, and neck to help prevent soreness after gardening. Do each stretch below for at least 10 repetitions.

Stretches to do before gardening:
  1. Lie on your back on a hard surface. Bend your knees and push the legs together downwards towards your chest. Then move the knees towards the left and then the right, touching the floor. Hold each position for a few seconds. Relax and repeat. Use your hands to hold your knees.
  2. In the same position, bring your right knee towards your right shoulder and then towards your left shoulder while the left knee is flat. Then reverse the legs, left knee towards left shoulder and then the right shoulder while right knee is flat. Hold and relax.
  3. Go down on your hands and knees (to support your body) with your back up. Arch your back upwards, pulling your stomach inside. Hold and then let your back and stomach go downwards as far as possible. Hold and then relax.
Stretches to do after gardening:
  1. Stand with your arms raised fully. Bend sideways from one side and then the other—it is important to feel the stretch.
  2. Stand with your hands on your hips. Twist your upper body from the waist, first one side and then the other as far back as you can go.
  3. Stand and bend from the waist, putting your feet flat on the floor, apart. Try to form a ‘V’ with your body and put your hands flat on the floor as well.


Sometimes, no matter what you do, you still get lower back pain after gardening. You can always rest for a few days afterward and use trusted over-the-counter products to ease any minor pain—hot and cold packs, topical cream or spray, and ibuprofen.

If pain persists or worsens, seek medical help to have your pain diagnosed by a specialist.

Gardening is a fun hobby to pursue and better when done safely and pain free.

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