Gardening Tips: How To Avoid Back Injuries

As I write this, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and it feels like spring might actually be here, we’ve had a couple of false starts but this could really be it.

When the weather improves we all tend to think about sorting out our gardens, tidying them up and planting for the summer. As a result, lots of people hurt their backs, they haven’t been in the garden for months and their muscles and ligaments can’t cope with all the bending and lifting. I can tell that spring has arrived by the number of bad backs I see.

My Tips for Looking After Your Back

If you are going to venture outside this weekend or over the Bank Holiday, there are a few things you can do to try and avoid an injury.

Firstly, bend with your knees not your back when you’re lifting, your legs are a lot stronger.

When you have to bend try to rotate your hips rather than bending your spine, it’s easy to over-stretch the ligaments that run along your back. It can help to think about keeping your back straight rather than curving it.

To minimise the amount of bending you need to do wear a gardening belt with your tools attached so you don’t have to bend repeatedly to pick up your secateurs and trowel. Or use long-handled tools so you don’t have to bend down at all to do your digging and weeding.

When it gets really hot (let’s be positive!) take regular breaks, it’s amazing how long we spend in our gardens in the heat of the day, and remember to re-hydrate.

Try to minimise repetitive movements as they will cause stress and strain on your body, and if you can, do strength-training exercises at the gym or using weights at home to prepare your body for the annual onslaught of gardening.

Garden Design Tips from a Professional

I was speaking to a gardener about back injuries recently and she told me that there are lots of garden design tips that can help avoid an injury or help those with bad backs.

Her top tips were:

  • Have narrow flower beds so you don’t have to reach too far
  • Have raised flower beds to avoid lots of bending
  • Use a hose to water your garden rather than a heavy watering can
  • Don’t have patches of soil with no plants as weeds will grow, make sure all your soil is planted with healthy flowers, plants or vegetables

I hope this helps when you get out into your garden, you might like to read about how to avoid sporting injuries and about tennis elbow too, now that spring is on its way. If you experience any pain or an injury – whatever you’re up to – please seek medical and osteopathic help.

 Enjoy the sunshine, you never know when it will be back!

 In health,


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