Dynamic Health Physiotherapy


Gardening With Hip Pain: How To Get Your Garden Started With Less Joint Pain And Stiffness

Finally, the snow is gone, the trees are budding, and the grass is starting to green up again. If you’re like many of our patients, you probably have your plants started and you are excited to get the gardens ready for another year.  

But, like many of the people we see on a regular basis, you might also be worrying about how you are going to feel once you start turning that soil. All those aches and pains that have been present, but manageable through the winter months, tend to resurface as full-blown bad backs and stiff hips and knees as you prep the soil, plant the garden and start weeding for another season. 

So, what can be done? How can you start gardening for another year without adding significant stress and discomfort to your joints?  

Let’s take a look at how the start of this gardening season can be a little more enjoyable by looking specifically at how to protect your hip joints while still getting the work done.


One of the secrets to keeping your hips from flaring up while gardening is to start early, plan ahead, and prepare your body for the extra movement and exertion that is coming. Just like the plants, our bodies need the proper conditions and time to acclimate before going into the garden. 

Your body needs to be able to do different, specific movements while gardening and therefore requires a specific set of stretches and exercises to get prepared. You also need to have the right tools and equipment to make the job easier. Planning out your exercises and gathering the proper equipment will make your gardening experience much more enjoyable. 

The simplest way to plan ahead is to think of the movements you will be doing and the positions you will be in. Take those positions and movements and break them down into simple exercises that you can do daily to prepare your body. As for equipment, try making a list or researching some of the tools that can help make the job easier and try a few out this season. 

A bit of planning can go a long way! 


Now you might have a few stretches in mind after you go through your own planning phase, but here are some tried and true suggestions of stretches that can help with hip pain and stiffness. 

1) Figure 4 – While seated, bring the foot of your affected leg up on top of the opposite knee, resting the outside of your ankle near the knee cap on the opposite leg. Push your knee gently towards the floor and lean forward with your back straight until you feel a slight stretch in your hip. Hold for 30 seconds. 

2) Hamstrings Stretch – While seated, straighten your affected leg and lean forward over that leg, with your back straight until a stretch is felt in the back of your leg. Hold for 30 seconds.

3) Lunge Stretch – In a standing position, put your affected leg back, keep your back straight, and lunge forward with your opposite leg until a stretch is felt in the front of your affected hip. Hold for 30 seconds.


1) Deep Squat – To maintain or regain mobility in your hips, practicing deep squats can be very helpful. Start with your feet shoulder width apart. Keep your back straight and bend your knees, squatting as low as you can comfortably go. Keep your knees over your toes as you go down and return to standing. Keep your heels down on the floor, if possible. If you find it difficult to get to this position, start by holding on to a countertop or door frame for support until the movement gets easier. Try 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

2) Forward Fold – This movement feels great on the back, glutes and backs of the legs. Start by standing with your feet slightly apart. Bend forward starting from the neck and slowly letting each segment of your spine fold forward until your reach as low as you can. Hold for 2-3 seconds while breathing out at the bottom of the movement. Return to standing by reversing the movement. Do 10 repetitions daily.


1) Squats – Along with helping with mobility, squats are a great functional way to strengthening your legs. The instructions are the same as above, but this time really think about tightening your abs and squeezing your glutes as you push back up into standing. Again, do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

2) Bridging – This exercise helps to strengthen your glute muscles, which are very important for gardening activities. Lay on your back and lift your hips off the floor until you make a straight line from the shoulders to the knees. Hold for 5 seconds and lower back to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Keep your arms off the floor to make it more challenging.

3) Plank – Planks are great for core strength, which can help reduce back pain. Try starting from your knees and propping yourself up on your forearms. Make a straight line from your knees to your shoulders and hold this position for 10 seconds. If this seems easy, try planking from your toes (knees off the ground) and make that straight line from your feet to your shoulders instead. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.


Proper posture and good form or lifting techniques can reduce the chances of stressing a stiff or sore hip. Often, we get focused on the task or try to rush to get something done and don’t pay attention to body mechanics when lifting, digging or weeding.  

Remember to keep your shoulders back, tighten your stomach muscles, and lift with your legs whenever possible. Turn your feet when you have to lift and twist, instead of just rotating your back and hips.


Coming back to the equipment we talked about in the planning phase, it’s important to use tools that reduce stress on any muscles or joints that might be affected. For example, a gardening kneeler can reduce pain on the hips and knees when you are weeding. A good wagon with wide tires can be much easier to handle than a wheelbarrow when your back or hips are sore, and a standing weeder or even a raised garden can help to reduce strain on a stiff or tight hip.


This can seem like an obvious tip with any activity that is causing pain or discomfort. The reality is that it’s easy to get busy with what you are doing and lose track of time. Especially when starting the gardening season, it is best to set limits on how long you will work before taking a break. Set yourself a timer and only work until the timer goes off. Progress may be a bit slower, but your joints and muscles will thank you for it later! 

Gardening can be a fun and rewarding activity. It is also a good way to stay active and healthy. Let’s start the gardening season off on the right foot and keep hip pain away. Use these tips to make sure you can enjoy your garden all summer long – without pain and stiffness. 

The great thing about most of these tips is that they can also be applied to most other joints of the body that might be of concern when gardening, especially the back and knees. 

Happy gardening!

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