Now that the weather is finally warmer, everyone wants to be outside gardening. While this is a great way to stay active, gardening activities like planting, watering, lifting, transplanting, weeding, digging, raking, mulching, and mowing can cause stress and strain to your joints and muscles if not done correctly.

Follow these 5 simple tips to help reduce pain while gardening:

Warm up.

Taking a quick walk and doing simple stretches for the spine, arms, and legs are a great way to help prepare your body for an activity like gardening.

Change tasks and positions frequently.

Be aware of how your body feels as you work in your garden. Having a raised garden bed can reduce the stress to your back by reducing the amount you have to bend over. If a part of your body starts to become painful, take a break, stretch, or switch to a different activity. If you have not been active in a while it may take time to build up to your desired activity level.

Get help where you can.

Use a garden cart or wheelbarrow to help move heavy items. It is easier to push something heavy than to lift something heavy. Use help wherever you can get it. Lift with your knees and use good posture..

Use a gardening pad or knee pads.

You can also reduce the stress on your knees by kneeling on one knee while keeping the other foot on the ground to decrease the stress to your knees. Switch as needed if you cannot tolerate kneeling on both.

Maintain good posture and body mechanics.

Use good body mechanics when you pick something up or pull on something like a weed. Bend your knees, tighten your abdominal, and keep your back straight as you lift and/or pull things. Avoid twisting your spine or knees when moving things to the side; instead, move your feet or pivot on your toes to turn your full body as one unit.

If you have any other questions or problems tolerating gardening or any other activity, contact your physical therapist for help.