Proper Body Mechanics for Gardening
Gardening is a wonderful activity for maintaining joint flexibility, bone density, range of motion and quality of life. Be sure to learn and follow proper body mechanics and techniques to avoid strained muscles and sore backs.
 
Remember:
  • Lifestyle Guide Body Mechanics for GardeningAs with any activity or exercise, consult your doctor for any precautions you should take before beginning any exercise routine
  • An occupational therapist or physical therapist can advise you about special aids or adaptive equipment that provide additional support or give joint protection
  • Switch tasks every 20-30 minutes and take a 15-minute break after every hour of work
  • If any activity causes severe pain, stop your work and do not continue until you feel better; discuss this with your doctor because it could be a medical issue
  • Avoid activities that cause any popping, clicking and grinding in your joints; discuss with your doctor
  • As you garden, do not place undue stress on your joints
Good Mechanics 
  • Bend at the hips and knees, not at your back; keep feet shoulder width apart
  • When squatting, avoid twisting and bending at the same time
  • When lifting, squat down, hold the item close to your body and then stand
  • Position yourself close to the work whether standing or sitting; avoid straining forward at the neck or waist
  • Ideal work height should be no more than 2-4 inches below elbow level when standing, and at elbow level when sitting; reaching should be limited to arm’s length with elbows slightly bent

Tips

  • Gardening should be enjoyable, so garden during times of the day when you feel your best and the weather is pleasant
  • Use yard waste containers with wheels that make it easier to move from place to place
  • Use rolling stools, gardening pads and long-handled tools to avoid undue bending and stooping
  • It’s easier on the body to pull weeds when the ground is wet
  • Mulch your leaves before you rake them -- it will reduce the number of times you need to bend and stoop, and it’s good for your winter lawn

Warm-Up Exercises 
Before you begin, warm up with a 10-minute walk or some stretching to get your body ready for activity and prevent possible injuries.

Trunk Extension

  1. Stand with hands on hips
  2. Lean slightly backward to arch your back
  3. Return to starting position and repeat



Calf Stretch

  1. Put one foot in front of the other with toes pointed forward
  2. Lean hands against wall or steady object
  3. Keeping your back knee straight, bend your front knee as you lean toward the wall






Neck Rotation

  1. Turn your head to the right as far as you comfortably can, and hold
  2. Turn your head to the left as far as you comfortably can, and hold
  3. Return to starting position



Side Bends

  1. Sit in chair with feet flat on the floor and arms at your sides
  2. Lean your body to the right so your right hand approaches the floor
  3. Return to upright position and repeat on the left side






Trunk Rotation

  1. Sit in chair with feet flat on the floor
  2. Cross arms at shoulder level
  3. Keep hips still while rotating your upper body as far to the right as possible
  4. Hold, and then repeat to the left

 



Hamstring Stretch

  1. While standing straight, place your foot on a step
  2. Lean body forward from the hips
  3. Keep your back straight
  4. Return to starting position