Fit For Gardening

« Back to Resources

Pain free until Spring time:

Every spring thousands of Australians venture out into their yards and gardens over the weekend for splurges of planting, weeding and landscaping. Sore necks, backs, knees and muscles can happen after these spurts of activity, especially after winter when we've all been a little less active.

Physiotherapy and Gardening:

Physiotherapists are able to treat, educate and advise people on the aches and pains that may arise after arduous sessions in the garden. With a few tips and taking some preventable measures: i.e. stretching, pacing your activity and using a proper lifting technique, physiotherapists can help keep gardeners moving this spring and prevent any injuries before they occur.

Gardening is a great activity to keep you FRESH - Being active helps keep you moving by helping to maintain good:

  • Flexibility
  • Range of motion
  • Endurance
  • Strength
  • Healthy living

Gardening Safety Tips:

  • Find your "easy zone" - a comfortable posture for your body to work in. Avoid "out of zone" or uncomfortable positions.
  • Keep your work in front of you and close to your body. Avoid reaching and twisting.
  • Use tools to assist you-spades, rakes,
  • Position your body at the height of your work.
  • If your working on the ground, kneel down, if your potting, put your plants on a table.
  • Move with your work. Don’t be tempted to lean, move along as your pro-gress in the garden.

Tools of the Trade:

  • Match the size of the gardening tool handle to the size of your hand. Too big or too small can cause aches and pains in the wrist and elbow.
  • Hold your tools in a loose, comfortable grip. Holding them too tight may overwork the muscles and cause injury.
  • Use tools to reduce work. A rake can pick up more than one handful.
  • Use a wheelbarrow or wagon to transport supplies. You can also put heavy items in the wheelbarrow and push them rather than carrying them.
  • Use power tools for repetitive or particularly arduous work.
  • Use an extended handle to reduce the reach.
  • Keep digging and cutting tools sharp.
  • Consider using a low, padded kneeling stool, with side handles to help you when working at ground level. Use the padding on your knees and use the handles to help you stand up.
  • Use knee pads or a foam pad for kneeling.

Pace yourself:

  • Take a break when you're tired.
  • Spread heavy lifting and digging tasks over a week rather than a weekend.
  • Spread major projects throughout spring, summer and autumn.
  • Take time to recover between projects .
  • Rotate tasks to avoid over-use injuries. Work in different positions and by doing different activities throughout the day.
  • Remember to protect yourself from the sun and to drink plenty of fluids.
  • Wear protective equipment. Make sure you wear proper shoes, long sleeve trousers and a long sleeve shirt and gardening gloves.

When stretching:

Movements should be slow and controlled. You should feel a gentle stretch of the muscle - stretching should not be painful. Once you feel a stretch, hold the position 10-15 seconds - do not bounce or jerk. Repeat each stretch 2 or 3 times.


  • Seek treatment at an early stage.
  • Make sure you get a diagnosis from a qualified physiotherapist and follow their advice and instruction.
  • Ensure you physiotherapist provides you with methods of self treatment and management.