Garden Do’s and Don’t’s!

Spring is upon us – almost! Many of us will be contemplating getting in the garden to get to grips with weeding, digging, and planting.

Certainly, gardening has a variety of health benefits from providing stress relief to exercise but let’s not forget that it is demanding work for your body – especially if you suffer from chronic pain!

Those of us with green fingers – myself included, are itching to get in the garden and start to tidy up after several months of neglect. However, it is never a good idea to have lengthy spells of digging, lifting, or weeding after a lengthy period of inactivity.

These initial periods of heavy activity often involve poor posture with repetitive carrying, lifting, and twisting which can easily lead to acute back pain and repetitive strain injuries.

Try these top tips to help prevent injuries and keep you gardening safely!

  1. Prevention is better than cure!

Gardening works a variety of muscles and joints, which is why it is good exercise! It involves different ranges of motion including:

  • Leaning
  • Standing
  • Crouching
  • Kneeling
  • Twisting
  • Bending
  • Lifting

Keeping core muscles strong and keeping flexible over the winter period is the key to preventing injuries that may happen during gardening. Core muscles include your stomach, low back, and hips.

Sitting for prolonged periods of time over the winter months can weaken core muscles, putting approximately 40% more pressure on the back, compared to standing!

  1. Warm Up!

To avoid injuring yourself whilst gardening, it is important to warm up first – gardening really is a full body workout! It is important to realise that you need to prepare your body in the same way you would if you were to go out for a run or play some sport!

Do some simple stretching exercises to loosen up. Stretching should target your back, core, shoulders, arms, and leg muscles. Going for a brisk, short walk will also get the blood pumping!

  • Start with some simple roll ups and downs of the spine. This is a great Pilates move and stretches the spine and legs. Stand with feet hip width apart, take a deep breath in, breathe out and slowly without forcing it aim to roll down through each vertebra to touch your toes. Take a deep breath in and then breathe out and slowly stand back up. Some of you will be able to touch your toes, some won’t, just do what you can, never force this move. Repeat 5 times.
  • Stand with feet hip width apart, raise your arms above your head, grab your right wrist with your left hand and bend over to the left side. Repeat on the right. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 3 times each side. This is a wonderful way to stretch your waist and core muscles.
  • Stand with feet hip width apart, cross your left arm across your chest, grasping it just above the elbow with your right hand. This is a brilliant stretch for the upper arms and shoulders. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat on the other side. 3 times each side should do it!
  1. Keep objects close to your body!

This will prevent you from over-reaching and will keep the spine in a balanced position. Try to work at waist height with your elbows bent and arms at your sides wherever possible.

Bend your knees, instead or bending down, kneel on a kneeler to get to ground level for weeding and planting. If this is not possible, consider sitting on a garden stool or bench.

Gardening that requires looking up and reaching above your shoulder puts a considerable amount of pressure on the neck. If it is safe use a stepladder or step stool to bring the work closer and more within reach.

Use tools with long handles to help prevent improper bending and reaching.

  1. Don’t take on too much!

Whilst it may be tempting to tackle your garden in as little time as possible, to avoid injury pace yourself. Make sure you take frequent breaks, standing up straight and stretching every 30 minutes or so.

Make sure you have a water bottle with you to stay hydrated, especially during sunnier days.

If you have significant pain whilst gardening it is your body’s way of telling you to stop or to modify your movement or activity.

Remembering to stretch after is important too, as it can reduce swelling and ward off any soreness.

If you would like some further information or to speak to a member of our team please call us on: Hitchin 01462 420077 or Luton 01582 579687, alternatively e-mail us at: or