Personalizing Pilates' Q&A Blog – by Sherry

July 12, 2009

Sore back after gardening

Filed under: Uncategorized — personalizing pilates @ 9:18 pm
Tags: , , ,

Hi everyone,

I just worked with a client who spent yesterday in her garden and today her lower back is really sore.    

Here’s an exercise that I recommend for all gardeners.   It’s not really a “true” Pilates exercise but one that I borrowed from a physiotherapist named Robin McKenzie.  Robin is one of the world’s experts on lower back pain.   

When we garden, we are almost always bent forward!   That puts a lot of strain on the muscles of the lower back because they are stretching as well as holding the weight of our upper body.    So I recommend this exercise be done every half hour while you’re out in the garden.   It only takes a minute and it will make you feel SOOOO much better!

  1. Stand with your feet wide apart.   standing mckenzie back arch
  2. Keep your knees fairly straight.
  3. Place your hands behind you, in the small of your back.  Your fingers should point inward.
  4. Now imagine that you are doing a back dive and arch backwards over your hands.  
  5. Hold for 2 or 3 breaths and relax.
  6. Repeat 2 or 3 times and you’ll feel great!

Let me know how you feel and if you have any questions!





  1. What can you do if your shoulders are tight and hurt after lifting and working in the garden?

    Comment by Ward — July 13, 2009 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for your question!

      Shoulders often hurt after gardening because we work with our arms forward of our body and we over-use our chest muscles. The strong/tight chest muscles pull our shoulders forward and that creates tension in the upper back and neck.

      Here’s an easy exercise you can do (sorry I have no photo, but I think it’s self explanatory)
      1 – Stand in a doorway and put your hands on the door frame at the 1 o’clock and 11 o’clock positions of a clockface
      2 – Step one foot forward and lean your body forward a bit keeping your hands at the 1 and 11 positions. You should feel a good stretch in the upper chest and shoulders.
      3 – Take 3 breaths
      4 – Step back and bend your elbows and place your hands at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions
      5 – Step one foot forward and lean your body forward a bit through the doorway
      6 – Take 3 breaths
      7 – Step back and place your hands at the 5 and 7 o’clock positions
      8 – Step one foot forward and lean through the doorway
      9 – Take 3 breaths

      Changing the arm and hand position on the doorframe stretches the different fibres of the chest muscles which helps to pull the shoulders back.
      Let me know if that helps!


      Comment by personalizing pilates — July 13, 2009 @ 5:49 pm | Reply

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