Gardening and yardwork can be very rewarding and achieve two birds with one stone. Your yard can look way better when you’re done and you can achieve the benefits of a great workout. It can also leave you with pain. Common pain sites include the low back, neck, shoulder, elbows and hands, and knees. Yea, that’s pretty much the whole body!
A note about the most common pain site, the low back. Yardwork is a great exercise for your low back! If you are bending repetitively, you are using your low back! As we educate in the videos below, we want to try to drive that motion more from our hips, but you won’t avoid using your low back. With that, it’s very appropriate to have some normal low back soreness after yardwork. Ideally, you would have the same or more glute, quad, and hamstring soreness along with the low back soreness. Since low back pain is so common with yardwork, we can think we did it “wrong” if we have some low back soreness. Note that there is a healthy amount of soreness along with leg soreness that is healthy and will have you stronger as a result.
Check out the video playlist below to learn tips related to proper yardwork and gardening in general, working down low, working overhead, and raking and shoveling amongst other tasks. Then, check out the flexibility and strength exercises below that to help better prepare you to get a workout instead of pain with your yardwork.
Gardening and Yardwork Movement Tips
The key to be able to perform the form described above is to have the proper mobility and strength. While shoulder mobility is pretty important, lower body and spine flexibility is most important. You certainly don’t have to do all the exercises below, but would likely benefit from any that look and feel challenging.
Lower Body Stretching
Mid Back Mobility
Low Back Mobility
It’s also important to have a great base of strength to improve your ability to garden and perform yardwork with less risk for injury. Yardwork really is a full body exercise, so the best way to address proper strength is to learn more about our 7 Foundational Movement Patterns and to perform at least two strength exercises from each category at least 2x/week. Certainly, more would be better, but that recommendation is a reasonable smart goal.
In summary, gardening and yardwork is a great way to work exercise into your daily life. It can help improve your overall flexibility and strength. Applying the tips above can help ensure you have the proper flexibility, strength, and form to perform your yardwork with greater ease and less risk for injury.
If you would like a more specific plan customized to your needs, schedule a Physical Therapy appointment today at the link here.
Happy Gardening and Yardwork!
Dr. Dane Happeny, PT, DPT, OCS, CF-L1
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist
CrossFit Level 1 Trainer