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Prevent Muscle Aches and Strains Whilst Gardening: Essential Wellness Tips!

Updated: Apr 30

Gardening is great for spending time outdoors plus for your mental health

Plant & rake, without the ache!

Gardening is great for spending time outside, getting fresh air and enjoying the weather – whilst also keeping active.

It is also great for keeping us mentally (as well as physically) healthy – the work done in a garden can be satisfying and you have a great feeling of accomplishment once the job is done!

"One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides!”

If, like me, Gardening is something you do enjoy, you are probably already out there planning what you’ll be growing this year, tidying up and preparing everything necessary.

One preparation that is often forgotten about is unfortunately YOUR BODY.

Weeding, planting, digging, trimming … this can all influence our bodies so its always a good idea to look after yourself as well as your garden.

Pull the weeds … NOT your Back!

Keep reading for some essential tips for gardeners to help prevent muscle aches and strains and ways to look after your body...

Gardening Essential Tips to Prevent Muscle Aches

It is always a good idea to –

  • Stretch & warm up – a brisk walk around before you start, circling your arms forwards & backwards, rotating your upper body side to side can all help.

  • Take regular breaks – keep yourself hydrated – tiredness can increase risk of injury.

  • Use the right tools for the job.

  • Use the right moves – Be aware of your body form & posture - lift heavy objects correctly so you don’t put a strain on your back. Kneel to plant & change positions frequently whilst you work.

  • Don’t do everything at once and …

  • Ask for help if needed.

Gardening releases happy hormones and reduces levels of cortisol.

Most Common Gardeners Injuries

  • Gardeners Back – Lifting with poor technique or spending too much time bending over can cause you to have back pain.

  • Pruners Neck – Craning your neck to prune trees or high bushes above your head can cause neck & shoulder pain.

  • Weeder’s Wrist – Wrist pain and stiffness can be caused by too much repetitive bending and twisting at the wrist.

  • Ligament & Joint Strain – Sprains and strains can be caused by using muscles repetitively or forcing limbs beyond their normal range of motion.

  • Swollen Knees – Working knelt on your knees for a long period of time without taking a break or without using knee pads/cushion can sometimes result in swelling or inflammation.

  • Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) – Excessive repetitive movements – especially when your body isn’t used to it or muscles haven’t been warmed up sufficiently may lead to tiny tears in the muscle which can lead to ‘DOMS’.

This can also be made worse resulting in muscle strains or further injuries if ignored –

- Muscle tenderness

- Stiffness

- Loss of Strength

- Swelling – These are all signs that you have over done it.

… If you do feel like you may of overdone it and are feeling a bit achy after a hard day digging and weeding - for the first 24-48hrs try and follow the R.I.C.E protocol to ease the strain.

A simple self-care technique that can help to reduce swelling and ease any pain.

  • Rest – You don’t have to rest yourself completely (!) but resting the affected area can help the muscle tissues repair quicker - continuing excessive activity may make things worse.

  • Ice - To help reduce any swelling and pain - apply an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a light towel for 15-20mins every 3-4hrs after the injury.

  • Compression - Wrap the injured area with a bandage if possible to prevent swelling.

  • Elevation - Keep the injured area raised (above the level of your heart) to help reduce pain and swelling. ie. arm supported in a sling or legs propped up on a cushion whilst resting on the sofa.

** Always seek medical attention if the injury gets worse or doesn't go away **

Lifes a garden - dig it!


ali iles is a massage therapist based in Downend, Bristol, UK

About Ali

Ali Iles - whilst not pottering around in the garden, is a Reflexology & Massage Therapist based in Bristol, UK.

Offering Complementary Therapies to help bring relief from a wide range of acute and chronic conditions plus providing you with time for relaxation - relieving tension and helping to improve your sense of wellbeing and health.

A full member of

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