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Gardening Without Back Pain

Ask the Experts by David Gilboe

Q: Since spring is almost here, I’m wondering if you can provide some tips on how I can prevent my back from hurting when I get my garden and flower beds ready for planting?

A: Good body mechanics is the key to being able to garden without creating back pain. Here are several tips that will help you:

Make time to prepare and protect your spine, muscles and joints by learning how to check and correct your posture. Many back issues are due to poor postural habits resulting in a loss of flexibility and decreased physical fitness. Gardening is, in many ways, a contact sport that requires preparation.

Warm-up before you start. Tight muscles are like cold rubber bands, they need to be warmed up to become flexible. Stretching your neck, shoulders, arms, back and legs before you get started can reduce the risk of pain or injury later.

Be kind to your body. Take breaks every 15 minutes. Use cool down stretches. For most gardeners, having your hands in the freshly turned soil and feeling the breeze of spring after a long winter is truly enjoyable. Relish the time you have in the garden and don’t push yourself. There are additional actions you can take to protect your back. These include learning safe methods for transporting gardening materials; learning how to bend, lift and carry properly; and more.

David Gilboe, PT is the President and Owner of David Gilboe & Associates, PC. David Gilboe and Associates have been providing physical and occupational to members of our community since 1979. Dave can be reached at or 586.779.8892. David Gilboe & Associates is a member of The Family Center's Association of Professionals. 

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The Family Center is a nonprofit organization that provides resources and preventative education to empower families to successfully navigate life’s social, emotional and physical challenges. The Family Center is completely supported by community donations. To learn more, call 313.447.1374 or email

The Family Center does not endorse or recommend the individuals or businesses who have provided the information contained on this page and the individuals and businesses who have provided this information are solely responsible for the content of the information provided. The Family Center provides this information "as is" without any warranties of any kind and disclaims liability for damages of any kind resulting from the use of this information. 

Written March 2018