As summer progresses, many Australians become more active around the house and garden. Unfortunately, this can lead to an increase in back problems. If you are a keen gardener, it is important that you take measures to look after your back. Here are some things to consider:

Warming Up

Stretch and warm up before gardening. This will prepare your muscles and joints for the work ahead and it will help prevent injury.

Get Fit

Having good muscle tone and general fitness is always a good idea. This is especially so if you have back problems. Good flexibility, endurance and muscle tone will help keep your back healthy.


Prolonged or repeated bending overloads the spine. Try to perform activities between waist and chest level, so that you don’t work with a bent spine. An example of this is placing pots on a bench to do the re-potting, rather than having the pots on the ground, or in a low position.


Lifting can also overload the spine. Do not attempt to lift heavy objects on your own. Use a lifting device, like a trolley, where possible. If you do lift, try to keep your back straight, your bottom pushed out and use your legs to do the work. Do not jerk; lift slowly and in a controlled manner. Learn to pull your belly button in slightly, while you lift, to help stabilise your spine.


Do not perform any sudden or heavy lifting after you have been sitting for prolonged periods. For example, lifting a bag of mulch out of the boot after a long car trip can put your back at risk. Similarly, prolonged sitting after heavy work can cause problems. Lie down to rest or watch TV, after a session in the garden; don’t sit.


Try to use a wheel barrow or a trolley to carry pots, bags etc from one point to another. Avoid carrying heavy or awkward objects on your own. Carrying can overload your spine and may cause damage and pain.

A Back Brace

If you have a chronic or recurrent back problem, it may be worth considering wearing a back brace whilst gardening. A back brace will give you support and it will also remind you to maintain good posture.

Visit Your Physio For A Check Up

Visiting your physiotherapist for a check up will help determine whether you have adequate flexibility and muscle control. Improving this will help keep your spine healthy. Physiotherapists are experts in dealing with back pain. If you do have trouble, see your physiotherapist without delay.