Gardening is a Great Exercise !!

Written by Dr. Marcus Wong

 Have a look around you, the trees are turning green, the flowers are blossoming, and people everywhere are mowing their fresh green lawns. As the summer approaches, many people are bring out their tools from the shed and getting ready to “jazz” up their garden for the nice summer weather.  Gardening is a great exercise alternative, and you can enjoy the sunshine as well.


Cover Gardening
Save tree Gardening


Every spring and summer, many individuals take part in raking, lifting, digging, kneeling and planting activities that lead to aches and pains in their neck, low back, and other extremities issues. Improper gardening techniques can cause repetitive strain injuries, lead to degenerative joint and disc problems, cause sprain and strain injuries to muscles throughout the body and wear and tear to joints and muscles.  Here are some following tips to follow for a safe and enjoyable gardening season.

  • Always stretch and warm up before starting any activities.  Gardening seems like a stress free activity, but it can lead to strenuous strain to the body resulting in injuries and aches and pains.  Take the time to prepare your body for activity by stretching your low back, shoulders, arms and legs.  Always warm-up and cool down your muscles. Take a short walk around the neighbourhood.
  • Always use good proper lifting technique.  Keep the load close to your body with your back straight.  Bend your knees while picking up and putting down the load. Avoid flexion of the trunk and twisting, as this puts lots of strain in your vertebral disc, and can result in injury.  Ask someone for help with heavy, awkward loads.


Gardening Basics for Beginners

  • Alternate your tasks. Take turns between heavy chores such as digging and less physically demanding tasks such as planting.
  • Stand with one leg forward and one leg back when you rake. Raking can put significant strain on your back and arms. So take extra care with this activity.
  • Change hands often: Changing hands frequently when you rake, hoe or dig prevents muscle strain on one side of the body.
  • Kneel onto grass or soft surface to plant and weed. Don’t kneel on hard surfaces or cement as this can put stress on your knee joints.  Use kneepads or a kneeling mat to minimize the amount of stress.  Constant bending can put strain on your back, neck and leg muscles and joints.
  • Change positions frequently. Make a point of changing position every 10 to 15 minutes. Move from kneeling to standing, from digging to planting.
  • Make sure that tools are a comfortable weight and size for you.  There are many ergonomically designed tools which are lightweight with long, padded handles and spring-action mechanisms that can reduce strain and effort.Get-up, move around, alternate tasks, repeat your stretch routine or sit back, relax and have a cool drink.
  • Get-up, move around, alternate tasks, repeat your stretch routine or sit back, relax and have a cool drink.  Try not to overexert yourself; and take three brief breaks at least once every hour. The work can also be spread over several days! Give yourself a breather. Your back will thank you!


Vegetable Gardening
Vegetable Gardening


If you do get injured or have aches and pains stop the gardening immediately.  Trying to push yourself or thinking the pain will go away on its own is not a good thing.  Rest and ice the area for the first 48 hours.  Use ice for 15 minutes intervals with a 60 minute break between each session as needed.  If the problem persists for over 5 days, seek treatment/help from a chiropractor.  Chiropractors play an important role in providing preventative education and early detection of spinal problems, as well as expert care for back, muscle and joint pain and injury.

If you have any more questions about gardening injuries/prevention or treatment options please email Dr. Marcus Wong at