Reach For Your Rake, But Save The Strain

Posted on: 28 April 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

Back advice website offers top tips to get you back on track and gardening this summer.


A recent survey found that 80% of people in the UK suffer with back pain, but despite its many health benefits, more than half of adults over 35 put their pain down to a result of the nation’s favourite pastime - gardening. 

As the Government announces its calling on Britons to covet their lawns and get digging as part of a campaign to encourage two million people to be more active in advance of London’s 2012 Olympics, the specialist back advice website, is offering practical advice and tips on ways to garden your way to better health without letting your back take the strain.

Whether mowing the lawn, planting a flower border or painting the fence, gardening de-stresses the mind and provides a great workout for the whole body to boost all round wellbeing. 

Gardening can even rival jogging or aerobics as a full-body fitness booster.  It works a number of different muscle groups, burns calories – up to 318kcals an hour - and incorporates other important elements of accepted exercise regimes, such as stretching, repetition and even resistance training.

But it’s important to remember that gardening can be just as challenging as any other exercise, and unless steps are taken to protect the body, different muscles and joints can be put under strain. 

To help Britons protect their backs, has some new handy health commandments that everyone should consider before reaching for the rake:

  • Prepare The Body – just as you would with any exercise, put a little time aside before and after each gardening session to warm up and cool down.  Decide on a regime and make it a habit every time you garden.  Lay on your back on the floor with your legs crossed and pull the knees towards the chest with the arms to give the lower back a good stretch.
  • Keep Pace – while the satisfaction of seeing the garden looking pristine may motivate you to spend entire days digging and planting, it’s important not to overdo it.  Divide work into manageable loads and spread this over a few days, and remember to take regular breaks – use the time to re-hydrate with sips of water as this too can help stave off back pain!
  • Variety Is The Spice Of Life – each time you garden, consider rotating tasks so you work the whole body without putting too much strain on one set of muscles.  Try five minutes of mowing and then five minutes of weeding.
  • Ease The Strain – change your position regularly to take the pressure off your back.  Prolonged activities where your back is bent can weaken the muscles and leave them susceptible to injury – use a mixture of positions such as sitting, crouching, kneeling and standing.
  • Recovery Time - a nice hot bath at the end of the day, can be incredibly relaxing for the muscles (particularly if your back has been exposed to the cold).
  • Sleeping Well - a good night’s sleep on a mattress offering full support for the back is also a must. TEMPUR Mattresses offer the body full support, keeping the spine aligned in the anatomically correct position and relieving pressure off of tired muscles and joints
  • Ensuring You Lift Correctly - and only as much as you can handle - is key to protecting your back in the garden.  If you are lifting something heavy, keep your back straight, bend from your knees and use your legs (never your back!)

Bending from the knees is also an important tip when digging – remember to work the legs more than the back and bending forward from the hips not the waist to keep the back straight is home to a host of practical advice to help individuals manage back pain on a day-to-day basis, whether at home, work or play. 

The site offers a wealth of information on the causes of back pain, as well as conventional and alternative treatments, preventative measures and exercises to help ease the pain.  Osteopath Geoffrey Montague-Smith is available to provide professional guidance and answer any tricky questions you have about your own back pain.

For more information about TEMPUR products, visit

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