A Physiotherapist's Guide To Preventing Injuries While Gardening



Over the coming months many of us will be venturing out to work on our gardens. Gardening is a fantastic form of exercise as well as being a great way to boost your well-being.

Unfortunately, it can also trigger aches and pains around the body and for this reason it is useful to follow some of the tips you will find in this article.

Common injuries caused by gardening

  • Lower back pain – a lot of repetitive bending and lifting can put excessive strain on the lower back. The muscles and joints can become irritated and in some cased trigger quite high levels of pain.
  • Knee pain- the knee joint has two rings of cartilage inside it called the meniscus. They can become irritated during deep squatting activities that can lead to the joint flaring up and becoming painful.
  • Tennis elbow – is an irritation of the tendons located on the outside of your elbow and is commonly caused by excessive squeezing/gripping activities such as sheering or digging with a trowel.
  • Shoulder pain – the shoulders take a lot of strain when gardening as you are often working with your hands above head or stretched out in front of you.  A condition known as shoulder impingement can occur as a result of prolonged periods in these positions.

Tips to prevent aches and pains

  • Pace yourself at first – most of us tend to be less active over the winter meaning that muscles can be a little weaker and joints a bit stiffer than normal. Deciding to trim all of the hedges at once on the first sunny day of the year could well trigger some of the common aches and pains! Make sure you pace yourself even if you feel like you could carry on at the time.
  • Stretch/warm up – getting your heart rate up so your muscles are ready to work is a simple but effective way to prevent injury. Add in some stretches and range of movement exercises and you’ll have much less chance of picking up any niggles out in the garden. Click here for a simple warm up routine to be performed prior to starting gardening.  
  • Use aids – There is a variety of equipment and tools that can help to off load the areas of the body that are prone to injury when gardening. These include;

- Kneeling pads
- Long handle tools
- Stools
- Step ladders

  • Think about your body position – this is very important and can make a big difference in the amount of stress that occurs in the different structures around the body. Remember;

- Don’t overreach
- Avoid prolonged deep squatting
- Don’t twist when lifting
- Use a ladder to improve shoulder position
- Push from your legs when lifting
- Alternate hands when using tools

  • Avoid over gripping – a common reason for tennis elbow to start is due to over gripping. Ensure you keep a relaxed grip and check that your tools are sharpened/up to the job before starting.

How can we help?

If you are currently suffering from any of the issues talked about in this article or any other aches and pains that are preventing you from gardening, then get in touch today. Our team of experienced physiotherapist are happy to help get you back on track and out in your garden again.

You can book a video or telephone consultation by clicking here.

Any general questions or enquiries then just drop us a message or call our reception on 0114 230 2030.


Hopefully this article has given you some tricks and tips on how to stay injury free when gardening. If you follow the advice given, then you should be able to enjoy a long summer out in the garden! Take your time with your projects and get in touch with us if any niggles persist. Don’t just ignore them!

Happy gardening!

James Walker

Service Development Director & Senior Physiotherapist

James is the Service Development Director and a Senior Physiotherapist at the White House Clinic. He qualified from Sheffield Hallam University with a BSc (Hons) degree in Physiotherapy in 2009.

James Walker

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