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How To Avoid Back Pain When Gardening (5 Tips From A Doctor)

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Eager to know how to avoid back pain when gardening? Your search stops here!

As a Doctor and Pain Specialist, I’ve discovered that – although gardening is a form of meditation – the constant bending over can strain your back and cause a great deal of relentless pain…

In this article, I’ll share 5 simple tips for avoiding back pain when gardening so that you can continue enjoying your hobby without worrying about physical discomfort. (It’s super simple!)

So, keep reading to learn why gardening can lead to back pain and how you can conquer it – let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Take proper precautions to avoid muscle cramps and fatigue from repetitive tasks in gardening.
  • Maintain a neutral position and take regular breaks to relieve muscle tension and prevent strain on the back.
  • Incorporate stretching exercises and wear appropriate gear to minimize the risk of back pain while gardening.

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How To Avoid Back Pain When Gardening (5 Simple Tips)

Here are my 5 simple tips to remedy back pain for good!

woman trimming plants

#1 Taking Proper Precautions

While tending to your garden can be therapeutic, it’s not uncommon for individuals to experience back pain when bending over, especially during repetitive tasks. Such actions, like shoveling or raking, can lead to muscle cramps and fatigue [1].

#2 Maintain a Neutral Position

It’s important to maintain a neutral position while gardening. Your back should be straight, and your shoulders should be rolled back and down.

#3 Take Short Breaks

Taking short breaks throughout the day helps avoid overworking any one muscle group.

#4 Do Your Stretches

Additionally, doing some basic stretching exercises is beneficial to relieve any tension that may have built up in your muscles [2].

#5 Wear the Right Gear

Lastly, wearing the right gear for the job is essential! Proper footwear will give you better traction when maneuvering around wet patches of grass or soil.

Gloves are also great for protecting your hands from dirt and blisters that may occur if you’re working with tools for an extended period.

Taking care of yourself while gardening will ensure you don’t suffer any unnecessary pain or discomfort!

Are you a visual learner? Browse this table for a quick review:

Taking proper precautionsBe cautious of repetitive tasks like shoveling or raking, as they can lead to muscle cramps.
Maintain a Neutral PositionKeep your back straight with your shoulders rolled back and down to maintain a neutral position.
Take Short BreaksTake short breaks throughout the day to avoid overworking any specific muscle group.
Do Your StretchesPerform basic stretching exercises to relieve muscle tension that may have built up.
Wear the Right GearUse proper footwear for better traction, and wear gloves to protect your hands from dirt and blisters.

Fortunately, if you follow these 5 tips, you’ll – without a doubt – enjoy your gardening pain-free…

Why does it cause pain? See the next section for a fitting explanation…

Why Does Gardening Cause Back Pain?

Gardening can take its toll on your body, leaving you feeling sore and achy.

In support of this, Dr. Euro et al. and colleagues’ study on the risk factors of sciatica mentions,

Physical activity at work and occupational workload, such as lifting or carrying heavy objects,” can increase the risk of back pain symptoms such as sciatica. [3]

The demands of gardening tasks, such as digging, lifting, and bending, can cause muscle imbalances due to the repetitive movements involved.

After all, these strain-inducing activities can increase the risk of developing muscle pain or other issues from overuse.

Additionally, if your muscles aren’t strong enough or flexible enough to handle the job, it could lead to injury or further pain in your back.

To prevent long-term damage and keep yourself safe while gardening, be mindful of any signs of strain and take regular daily breaks.

By monitoring your physical condition when gardening, you can ensure that you don’t put too much stress on your body and avoid experiencing back pain.

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When to See a Doctor for Help (5 Symptoms)

If you’re feeling any strain or discomfort while gardening, you must take a break and consult your doctor for advice.

doctor checking the back of the senior

Repetitive strain injuries, muscle spasms, improper lifting techniques, and poor posture can all contribute to back pain while gardening.

If you experience any of these symptoms after gardening, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible:

  1. Pain lasting more than a few days
  2. Unusual swelling or redness in the area
  3. Numbness or tingling sensations that don’t go away when resting
  4. Weakness in the muscles that affect movement
  5. Difficulty with normal activities such as walking or sitting up straight

Your doctor can assess your condition and advise on preventing further injury.

They may also suggest exercises that strengthen your core muscles and improve posture so you can garden more comfortably in the future.

Still in pain? Perhaps check out more tips (all in this brilliant video):

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the best tools to use for gardening to reduce back pain?

Ergonomically designed hand tools are essential. 
Also, it is helpful to try using garden carts with wheels. They can store supplies and transport heavy objects around the yard without you having to pick them up yourself.

2. Is gardening an effective exercise for people with back pain?

Gardening can be an effective exercise for those suffering from back pain. It can help strengthen the back muscles, improve flexibility, and increase the range of motion.

3. What type of clothing should be worn to avoid back pain while gardening?

When gardening, it’s important to wear the proper clothing to avoid back pain. Choose a pair of shoes or boots that provide adequate support and cushioning for your feet. Additionally, using a back pain belt can offer extra lumbar support, ensuring you maintain a healthy posture while tending to your garden.

4. Are there any stretches or exercises to do before and after gardening to reduce back pain?

Simple exercises like lunges, squats, arm circles, and shoulder shrugs can help you prepare for the task at hand.
So, take a few moments before and after gardening to keep your body limber!

5. Are there any ergonomic gardening techniques that can be used to reduce back pain?

Yes, you can use ergonomic gardening techniques to reduce back pain. Start by wearing protective gear, such as kneepads and a supportive belt, to give your body the support it needs.


Now that you know a little about how to avoid back pain when gardening, you’re relieved to hear you can – thankfully – keep gardening (but gently!)…

Following these simple tips should help reduce discomfort and make your time in the garden enjoyable again.

However, remember that if your back pain persists or worsens, consult a medical professional for further guidance and treatment options.

With just a few changes to your gardening habits, you can return to enjoying your favorite outdoor activity without worrying about causing further damage to your back.

woman gardening


1. Alzahrani H, Shirley D, Cheng SWM, Mackey M, Stamatakis E. Physical activity and chronic back conditions: A population-based pooled study of 60,134 adults. Journal of Sport and Health Science. 2019;8:386–93.

2. Carsten Oliver Schmidt, Heiner Raspe, Pfingsten M, Hasenbring M, Basler H-D, Eich W, et al. Back Pain in the German Adult Population. Spine. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2007;32:2005–11.

3. Euro U, Heliövaara M, Shiri R, Knekt P, Rissanen H, Aromaa A, et al. Work-related risk factors for sciatica leading to hospitalization. Scientific Reports. 2019;9.

About Author

Lamia A Kader, MD
Lamia A Kader is a Medical Doctor and a Medical Research Professional with a Ph.D. in Clinical Research. ISMMS, USA. She had enhanced her medical knowledge of medical devices and equipment development and innovation by attending clinical meetings, local national courses, journal clubs, and conferences, in addition to e-learning, subscribing to major medical journals and keeping an eye on latest trends in medicine and keeping an eye on clinical trials industry and healthcare marketing current trends. She had participated in several medical device innovation projects by conducting clinical research studies, developing clinical trial protocols, writing patient safety narratives and “Medical Device Risk Assessment Reports” to transform new medical technologies into real products that save and improve lives. Follow her on LINKEDIN. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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