Yard Work and Gardening Resource

Tips for Yard Work and Gardening

Gardening is a great activity that allows you time in nature to unplug and reduce stress. It is normal to experience low back pain after an afternoon of digging, planting, weeding, watering, mowing, and carrying bags of dirt. Follow this guide to prepare your back for the motions of yard work and turn down the pain alarm system.

Strategies to Turn Down the Alarm System

Warm up: Cold, tight muscles are more susceptible to strain, so it is important to warm up your body with low intensity exercises (like your Hinge Health exercises) before a physically demanding activity such as gardening. Gardening uses multiple muscles in your legs, back, core, shoulders, and arms, and warming up will allow you to improve your resilience.

Gradually increase your time: It’s easy to lose track of time while gardening, but it is best to gradually increase your gardening sessions as you get started. Try to space your activities out throughout the week with rest days built in, instead of tackling an entire planting or weeding job in one day.

Take breaks: Every 10 to 15 minutes, stand up and walk around to add some movement and avoid being in one position for a long period of time.

Lifting, bending, and twisting are not inherently dangerous: Yard work involves a lot of standing, bending, and lifting, which can be challenging for your back. Getting used to these tasks as you start gardening again is important preparation. Find strategies to make things easier as needed. If you need to be close to the ground, try using a cushioned knee pad and kneeling at ground level.

Naturally move and lift in a way that feels right to you: Bags of soil or large plants are heavy. If you don’t lift things regularly, consider putting bags of soil into a wheelbarrow or garden cart so you don’t have to lift repeatedly as you plant or transport heavy items.

Consider raised beds or containers: Raised beds that are built 2 feet off the ground can be easier to access with less bending. Try planting vegetables in containers or pots as they are easier to prepare and maintain with less digging and weeding needed.

Finish with a cool-down stretching session: Stretching when you are finished with your yard work project is important to increase blood flow to your muscles and ward off stiffness and soreness.

In addition to your Hinge Health exercises, here are a couple to focus on as a warm-up or cool-down for gardening.

Standing Straight Leg Raise

  • While walking with your arms stretched out in front of you, raise one leg so that your foot reaches knee or hip level as shown. Do not go past your hips.

  • Alternate to the other side as you continue the walking pattern.

  • It’s okay if your knee bends slightly as you bring the leg up.

  • Don’t go past the point of discomfort or round your back to achieve the high leg position.

Repeat three times on each leg based on your comfort.


  • Stand facing a counter or the back of a chair.

  • Keep your weight on your heels and push your hips back.

  • Let your knees bend and lower your buttocks toward the floor.

  • Keep your chest facing out and don’t allow your knees to collapse inward.

  • Go to a comfortable depth (without going past a 90 degree angle in your knees) and then press into your heels and squeeze your buttocks to stand back upright.

  • Use your counter or the back of the chair for support if needed.

Perform this exercise 10 times in a row, then take a short break (30 to 60 seconds) and perform another 10 repetitions.