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Two Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips To Avoid Back Pain

  1. NEVER over exert or strain your back.
  2. Keep your back STRAIGHT at ALL times.


  • Place your feet one in front of the other. Place to front of the shovel on the ground where you want to dig. Now place your front foot on the top of the shovel blade. Anchor your back leg into the ground to give you stability.
  • Put your weight on the shovel. Let the weight of your body push the shovel into the ground. If you find it hard to push into the ground gently leverage the handle of the shovel back and forth as you continue to apply your weight on the shovel.
  • To begin lifting the dirt, shift your weight to your back leg, by moving your pelvis backwards and place the front foot on the ground in the same position it started.
  • Make sure you bend at hips and knees, and not to bend your back. If you don’t initiate the lifting from the pelvis you will be working harder than you need, and you may cause back or neck strain.
  • Leverage the shovel out of the ground by bending the knees (especially the back leg) to lower your body. By lowering your body when you lift the shovel up, you are positioning your centre under the weight you are trying to lift, and using your pelvis, hips and leg muscles rather than your back muscles.
  • Move your whole body to where you want the dirt to go – do not twist at the waist to drop the shovels load – and then just turn the shovel handle to let it fall there. Do not bend to drop the load.


Sitting on a stool or bucket

If you have knee, hip or back pain, sitting will help you avoid any further trauma in those areas. But even sitting and weeding can take problems if you don’t know how to move in the right way. I suggest you try this out so you know how to do it when the time comes.

  • Locate your lower pelvis bone (the two at the bottom of your butt) and make a firm connected between them and the bucket (if it starts to ache sit on a small cushion)
  • Plant your feet firmly and evenly on the ground with your legs spread.
  • Place your arms between your legs which helps you get the correct posture.
  • Now you can support yourself as you begin to weed. Just push your elbow/s onto the inside of your knees to brace your posture.


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  • Prop your elbows against your legs just above the knee. This will create an external brace, which will help stabilize your body when you bend and reach for the weeds.
  • Place your feet wide apart to create a stable base of support.
  • Pull weeds using your arm and/or your leg muscles. Never bend your back to pull.
  • Keep your head, spine and pelvis straight. Move and bend using your legs and hips only.


On all fours

  • Keep your spine straight, from the top of your head all the way to the tip of your tailbone and your pelvis, and be aware of any muscle strain along your trunk. Once you become aware of any strain gently relax and wait until it disappears before continuing to work.
  • When you reach forward to grasp the weeds, push your body forward using your leg muscle to push your pelvis forward. This will support your weight and allow your shoulders to relax.
  • Always keep one hand on the ground to maintain balance. Change arms regularly!
  • Instead of using your hand and arm muscle to pull the weeds out just hold the plant tight and ease your whole body backward. Do this by moving your butt slowly back toward your heels.
  • The only part of your body that should be moving back and forth is your trunk. To achieve this you need to find a comfortable location for your shoulders and elbows and keep them there.
  • Make sure you rest for a while if you start to feel any tension in your shoulders. Remember to keep your head, spine, and pelvis straight at ALL times! Control all body movements by moving your pelvis back and forth and NOT by bending your back.
  • Try a short warm up before you begin gardening. Doing exercises like the pelvic tilt and a gentle lying twist with bent knees (if your back can handle it) will warm up those hips and ready them for a back-safe weeding session.
  • And when you have to reach for a weed, try to stretch your torso out from your hips. This will keep your spine long.
  • When you weed the garden from a standing position, your lower body needs to be stabilized in such a way that you can also shift your weight easily in every direction: forward, back, toward and away from each side, and diagonally
  • If you plant your feet, especially your heels, into the ground, you will establish the stability that can support movements of your trunk and arms.
  • Grasping weeds from the standing position is not just an arm action. Try to reach from your shoulder blade all the way out your arm and hand. This will help keep your spine long and may provide a good upper back stretch, too.

Wheelbarrow work

  • First, position yourself so that you are lifting from underneath, including using an underhanded grip.
  • That old adage, “bend from the hips and knees, not the back” comes in especially handy here. This is because when you straighten up, you will have leverage power to use that can save your back muscles from strain and injury. Once you are straight, keep a long spine and lean your body weight in toward the wheelbarrow to tilt it and empty out the contents.


handle-tool001When your garden wheelbarrow is loaded with soil or other contents, and it’s time to dump it out, play it smart by bending from the hips and knees before you lift. Don’t use your spine for this.

When you bend from the hips, you have the advantage of using very strong muscles to lift the load. By comparison, back muscles are much weaker; the structures of the spine are vulnerable to strain and injury.

Bending down will allow you to pick up the wheelbarrow from underneath, which is more efficient and will give you more leverage, now switch to an underhand grip. This will help you avoid wrist, arm, shoulder and neck strain when lifting the weight of the wheelbarrow straight up.

Because you’ve bent from your hips and knees to lift the wheelbarrow, you now have the power of those muscles on your side. Begin to straighten your legs.

To empty the wheelbarrow, straighten all the way. Lean your weight forward onto your front leg. Keep a nice long line from your head, through your spine down to the very bottom (your coccyx bone). A long spine will help protect your back from injury and strain.

The most important rule for saving your back when using wheelbarrows may be something you would prefer to ignore, but please don’t: Do not overload the wheelbarrow. Overloading makes pushing harder, can cause you to strain your hips, and to lose your balance.

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