Gardening – Managing Neck/Back/Shoulder Pain - Premier Spine and Sport Rehabilitation & Wellness

Gardening is a rewarding hobby and a passion, but it has its costs. Don’t let pain prevent you from continuing to enjoy your hobbies. Physiotherapy, a consistent exercise routine, and a plan for moderate gardening can help you to garden safely and avoid long-term complications like arthritis.

How Gardening Affects Your Body

Gardening involves many repetitive activities such as bending, kneeling, digging, reaching, and carrying plants and soil. Bending can cause neck pain, shoulder pain, and back pain, and kneeling for long periods can cause knee pain.

As you age, you might lose the ability to perform repetitive activities for long periods of time. While gardening is good exercise, overuse of muscles and stress on joints can lead to pain, stiffness, and long-term injury if gardeners do not keep in good physical shape and make sure to garden in a healthy way.

Pain From Gardening

If you experience pain after gardening, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other over-the-counter pain relievers could help with gardening pain temporarily. However, these drugs may lose their effectiveness over time and cause side effects such as stomach upset.

Rather than depending on pain relievers, consider your overall physical fitness plan and the way you garden to help your body heal and protect your joints and muscles from future damage.

Tips for Managing Pain

Take Breaks When You Garden

In many cases, the pain gets worse when you overwork muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Since many gardening tasks require you to do the same activity repeatedly, stopping for a few minutes during a task can give your body time to recover.

Muscles can become sore if they do not receive enough oxygen. Slowing down and breathing deeply can help your muscles recharge.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can make you susceptible to the effects of heat and can cause muscle pain and cramping. Bring plenty of water with you when you garden, and keep track of how much you drink while you are out there. When possible, work in the shade to minimize water loss through sweating.

Use Ice

If you have sore muscles, rest them and press an ice pack against them to reduce swelling. Icing your muscles for twenty minutes or so will make them feel better and give you a chance to recuperate.

Try a TENS Unit

A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS) unit relieves pain in sore muscles by making them contract. This promotes natural healing processes and reduces pain. Physiotherapists often use TENS units for acute pain relief after therapy, and you can buy a home unit for personal use from. Not sure what to look for in a TENS unit? Give us a call at Premier Spine and Sport at 289-472-5571 and we can help guide you to the best unit for your needs.


For more serious pain that does not respond to at-home therapies, physiotherapy restores range of motion and helps muscles heal. Physiotherapy exercises can target strains, tension, and repetitive motion injuries that result from gardening.

Tips for Avoiding Pain

Stretch Before You Garden

Following a stretching routine before you garden is one way to make your muscles more resilient and reduce the risk of injury. In physiotherapy, your therapist might recommend specific stretches.

Vary Your Garden Routine

If you have many tasks to perform during each gardening session, switch from one to another frequently. Different gardening activities often rely on different muscles and muscle groups, so switching gives your muscles time to recover.


Regular cardiovascular exercise strengthens your muscles and provides support for your joints. Strong core muscles help you maintain good posture while you are gardening and reduce stress on your back, hips, and legs.

Stretch When You Finish Gardening

Take a few minutes to cool down with some light stretches after you finish gardening. Stretching helps make your muscles and joints more flexible and less prone to injury.

Be Aware of How You Bed and Lift

A high percentage of back pain is directly related to carrying something heavy so, it’s important to be aware of how you should lift and carry things while you garden…

And while bending over to do the groundwork, think about your position.

Your starting position must be crouching, with your legs bent at the knees and your back straight.

Ensure you carry heavier items low down and pressed against your body so that there is less leverage on your back.

Try to kneel instead or squatting or stooping over the flower. You can use a gardening mat to kneel on.

Use a wheelbarrow where you can, to carry loads more safely.

How about this slice of common sense: If something you are lifting (a watering can or bag of garden waste perhaps?) is heavy, then fill it up halfway and do multiple trips rather than risk straining your back.

Specialized Gardening Tools Can Help You Prevent Back Pain When Gardening

You can prevent back pain while gardening by using specialist tools. They are designed to ease

the strain on your back and joints.

Wheelbarrows are designed to make loading and unloading garden waste much easier, and enable you to transport  your hanging baskets and plant pots more safely.

Long-handled tools can make weeding, trimming, and picking up garden waste much easier on your back, avoiding the need to stretch or bend over repeatedly.

Many people now use garden kneelers, often designed with special handles to assist you when getting up and down. Some of them even convert into low stools as well which eliminates the need to crouch or bend down.

Check Your Food Intake

Your muscles need protein and complex carbohydrates to develop. Your bones and nervous system need calcium. Some foods promote pain and inflammation, while others reduce it. Proper nutrition equips your body to handle the challenges of gardening.

Overcoming Pain With Physiotherapy from Premier Spine and Sport Rehabilitation & Wellness

It is natural to experience more aches and pains as you get older, but that does not mean that pain is unavoidable. With the right combination of the best physiotherapy from Premier Spine and Sport Rehabilitation & Wellness, food intake, and exercise, you can continue to enjoy an active lifestyle, including gardening and other outdoor hobbies.

If you have gardening pain that does not go away or is severe enough to interfere with your daily activities, call Premier Spine and Sport Rehabilitation & Wellness at 289-472-5571 to schedule your physiotherapy session today!