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It is a tough one. I think you are dealing with it well by figuring out ways to reduce the strain and cut down on your gardening time. I tend to overdo it when I'm feeling well. (I've had a form of arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis for the past 27 yrs.)What I've found is that it helps to stretch before, during and after my gardening sessions. It also helps to strengthen your stomach muscles ... that has been the biggest help for reducing my back pain.

When I do have back or neck pain, I try to take it easy and do as little as possible.

I hope this helps!


I don't have any back problems (touch wood!) but was still aching all over on Tuesday after a rather over enthusiastic digging session at my plot. I think the key is little and often with digging but that's not always so easy when time is limited. Do like the idea of getting a student to dig potatoes though...


I'm 43 too, and I thought I was the old one among us...

Definitely, take care of your back! For me too it's digging that does it in, especially weeds. Gardening isn't worth being in pain. It's nice you have someone else to pay to do some of the digging.


Oh yikes... I have no suggestions for back pain, but I'm sorry you've been less than 100%.

Sue Swift

Hi John,
I suffer from back pain too. I can keep it under control by constant exercising - yoga and pilates type stretching - and by avoiding things which I know are immediate triggers - slow walking around museums or shops, riding and digging. I can cope with giving up the first - but refuse to avoid the other three. So I keep up the exercising, suffer a bit if it's in a good cause, and when I just seize up take to bed with a hot water bottle and one of those anti-inflammatory plasters you can get. And if that doesn't work (it usually does)visit a physiotherapist. My doctor tells me my problems would be over if I went swimming regularly (and stopped riding), but as I loathe swimming even more than I fear back pain, neither of those is an option.

John Curtin

Thanks to all who posted a response. Seems that adaption and excercise are the answers. I find swimming is very good at easing out the kinks and my physiotherapist suggested pilates which has been excellent for me.
As for getting someone in to do some of the heavy work - I'll probably do it again this year for the big jobs like harvesting all the potatoes in one go or transplanting very large shrubs, trees and the like. Andrew, a colleagues son, is 16, at horticultural college, has had an allotment since he was 11 and does such a professional job. My potato area was dug,spuds sorted by size,dried,bagged and the area raked over and levelled like a billiard table, all with a fork. Super job and only a few spuds sprouted this Spring showing he'd diligently dug them all up. He'll go far!

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