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Gardening with Lower Back and Joint Pain

My top 7 tips to help ease gardening with lower back and joint pain

Out in my front garden today I set about tackling a rather well-established and woody buddleia (aka a butterfly bush). If you have read the ‘About Me’ section of my website, you will know that I suffered a back injury in my early teens. I manage my back pain very well, however, I know that gardening, heavy lifting and changing fitted bedsheets really does push my back to it’s limits.

I am happy to report that gardening today was not a bother for my back and it got me thinking about my top gardening tips to help those of you suffering with lower back and/ or joint pain.

Tip #1 - Kneeling Pads & Knee Pads

Just because weeding isn’t overly strenuous, doesn’t mean it’s easy on your knees! I strongly recommend a kneeling pad when weeding out those stubborn weeds in your flower beds and garden paths. It will help to cushion your kneecaps (great if you have wear and tear behind your kneecaps & will help to prevent it worsening) and will also save you from bruising.

Tip #2 - Use the Right Tools for the Job

This may sound very obvious, but using blunt hedge cutters, the wrong tool for the job or

getting creative or inventive with your equipment really isn’t worth the extra strain on your body. You want to work smarter – not harder! Overstraining, forcing or expending more effort than needed from inappropriate tools can exacerbate injuries… or worse, cause them.

"Overstraining, forcing or expending more effort than needed from inappropriate tools can exacerbate injuries... or worse, cause them"

Tip #3 - Kneelers & Long-Handled Tools

I have grouped these together as unsupported forward bending and getting up and down

to and from the ground can be very uncomfortable with lower back pain. A kneeler has high handles that can help with mobility issues – some are also padded (incorporating Tip 1) to make kneeling more comfortable. Long handled tools can help you to weed without the need for prolonged forward bending, these are especially great if your back pain is flared up by postures like this.

Tip #4 - Take Regular Breaks

Staying in one position for a prolong period of time can place strain on your back and joints.

Getting up and moving about is key. You can use this time to grab a sip of water to help keep you hydrated or pop the kettle on.

Tip #5 - Use a Wheelbarrow

Using a wheelbarrow or a container on wheels can help you to move heavy materials about

rather than carrying, lifting or dragging.

"Long-handled tools can help you to weed without the need for prolonged forward bending"

Tip #6 - Posture

We all know to “bend with your knees whilst lifting” but this is so easy to forget this when you’re stuck into the middle of your gardening projects. Make sure to check in with yourself now and again to ensure your lifting with a straight back, bending your knees and if possible, keeping the heavy item as close to your body as you are able to.

Tip #7 - Post Gardening Cool Down

Let’s be honest, gardening can be a bit of a workout, so cool down as if you have done just that. An easy walk around the garden and gentle stretching can help to prevent any injuries from reoccurring and also ease the sore muscles you may feel in the days to come.

Most Importantly, don't forget to enjoy your garden no matter how big or small.

Hopefully these tips will help you in your garden. However, if lower back pain and other aches and pains creep up or aren’t easing themselves on their own then osteopathy may be able to help you. I’d encourage you to contact one of the clinics I work at for an appointment, or get in touch with me via email if you would like more information.

Happy gardening!


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