Energy Physical Therapy
Energy Physical Therapy

Get Gardening: Physical Therapy Tips

By Dr. Julie Hawthorne Adamski


Gardening is great for the mind, body, and soul. Gardening is exercise so treat gardening as a sport. Sports have a pre-season and an in-season. Pre-season is when you condition and train for the sport. If the start of garden season is May, then pre-season is March, and that is when you want to train to get ready for the May gardening season. Pre-season exercise for gardening is important so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor with fewer aches and pains from the seasonal activity.


During the garden season, warm-up and stretch during gardening. As we get older, we need more warm-up time. Consider a 5-10 minute walk before going to your tool shed and gathering your tools. During that warm-up walk, you can add dynamic stretching and perform static stretching between pulling weeds.


You may not be able to garden like you used to. Downsize the square foot of your garden or change to pots and raised beds. Continue to garden but accept it may look different from when you were 30 years old.


Consistency is key to not getting overwhelmed during garden season. There are 7 days in a week, spread out the gardening load. Make a plan and time yourself. 30 minutes a day of gardening is a great way to stay ahead and not to overdo it in 1 day. People get injured or inflamed when they are fatigued. Prevent injury and exhaustion by planning and spreading out the workload by performing 30 minutes daily vs 4 hours in one day. 


Think smarter. Use long-handled tools, the wheelbarrow, or a tractor to make it easier on your body so you don't need to lift as much, bend over, or squat as long.


Change positions frequently. The best position for weeding is a change of position. You can kneel, stoop, bend at the waist, 1/2 kneel, sit on the ground, get on all fours, or even lay down. The key is to not stay in one position too long and listen to your body. When you change positions, that is a great time to perform a stretch.


Take breaks. If you have been standing while gardening, go grab a seat. If you have been sitting, take a small walking break. During the break, drink some water, juice, or electrolyte drink to replenish your body if you sweat a lot.

Cool down. When you are finished gardening for the day, take a stroll and look at your accomplishments and plan for tomorrow's gardening activities. Sit and stretch in the shade for a few minutes and make your to-do list. Try to cool down before you hop into a recliner for a snooze.


Gardening is great. Prepare like a sport and you will be physically ready for garden season. Think smarter to prevent aches and pains thru consistency, planning, change of positions, and taking breaks. Have fun playing in the garden!


Dr. Julie Hawthorne Adamski is a licensed physical therapist and the owner of Energy Physical Therapy LLC. Dr. Adamski serves the greater Pottstown and Boyertown area and is a local resident committed to the health and wellbeing of residents. Information in these tips is intended for educational use only. You should seek medical advice from your individual physical therapist or physician if needed.  610-310-0915  

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