Safe and Healthy Gardening Tips

Gardening Watercolor   by Maren Sederquist, MES, CSCS, CPT

The above picture is a perfect example of BAD posture while gardening. I just couldn't resist posting the beautiful watercolor my mom painted!

Here are my safe and healthy gardening tips:

  • Bend forward at your hips with your knees slightly bent. Don't just bend forward in your spine with your knees locked.
  • Push, rather than pull, garbage cans out to the curb to minimize twisting in your spine. (Make sure you have garbage cans with wheels on them.)
  • Avoid twisting your spine as you pull a hose. Try backing up to pull the hose out, then move your feet to turn rather than twisting your spine. 
  • When your hose gets caught, resist pulling at if from where you are. Go to where it’s caught, free it, and pull out as much hose as you’ll need to continue your watering.
  • Since hoses are heavy, buy more & shorter hoses, rather than fewer long ones.
  • Use good “weight lifter’s squat” form when lifting pots, or anything else heavy. Sit way back - keeping your knees behind your toes, and draw your navel in to engage your abs to hold your spine “neutral”.
  • Pull the heaviest part of the pot as close to your body as possible before you stand up with it. Make sure your spine is upright first, then use your legs to stand up.
  • Keep any big pots that you might move as light weight as possible. If you have plenty of room for roots, try putting an upside-down pot or crushed cans inside the pot to lighten the weight.
  • Don’t try to move a pot you’ve just watered. Move pots while they’re dry and not as heavy. If pots are heavy, use a dolly to move them.
  • To reduce back strain, stand as close as possible to whatever you’re pruning, so you don’t have to reach far.
  • If you aren’t confident you can do something yourself, ask for help.
  • If something hurts, change what you’re doing.
  • Take frequent breaks, and avoid being in any one position for too long.
  • Drink lots of water while you’re gardening.
  • Wear sun protection: suntan lotion, hat, sunglasses, long sleeves, etc.
  • Contact Maren if you can’t figure out how to do something safely!

Safe and Unsafe Garden Positions

Exercises that Strengthen Your Back for Gardening

  Reprint this

Return to Articles Index