It’s officially Spring…The season of Golf and Gardening backs pains.
Warm rays from the sun bring the need to weed, rake and plant. The one thing my gardening clients have taught me is that pain will not hold them back. The gardening must go on.
When engrossed in an activity like gardening we often lose personal awareness, which is partly why it is so appealing. Nevertheless, by the end of the day we regain that awareness quickly when a stiff back or neck presents itself.
What to do?
Here are a few tips and exercises to keep you in peak gardening condition for as long as possible.
– Use a Timer!
Get the timer out of the kitchen and bring it with you. Every 20 – 30 minutes, stop. Do some stretches. Change position and/or activity. Is it annoying to have to stop and move around? Of course it is, but keep in mind this will save you some aches, pains, and several more years of gardening.
– Mix it up
As mentioned above, change position and activity regularly. Multi-task. Instead of focusing on getting the yard raked in one day, spread it out along with a few other “have tos” over several days. This way your body is not stuck in one position or a repetitive motion for hours on end.
– 7th Inning Stretch. The Mid Gardening Workout
When your timer goes off and your body is craving a stretch. Here are 4 great movement options:
#1. cat and cow/ #2. child’s pose
#3. quad stretch
#4. elbow stretch circles ( from one minute movement)
– Gardening core strength. The Pre/Post Gardening Workout
Your core is not your just your belly. It is the entire ring of muscles around the trunk and can even include muscles of the thighs and shoulders. 5 to 10 minutes of simple core strengthening exercises done both morning and night might help in preventing back aches. Here are 6 exercises that will help:
#1. The Spine Extension and #2. The Forearm Plank (from the Easy TV workout)
#3. The Dead Bug Exercise (from Finding Your Fulcrum)
#4. “Clamshells” Side Lying leg movements
Lying on your side, bend the knees and make sure neck and shoulders are comfortable. Keeping feet together lift the top knee. Do not allow the pelvis to rotate backwards, torquing the back. The goals is to move only the leg, keep the pelvis and back stable. 10 to 20 times on each side.
#5. “Chicken Wings” Side Lying External Shoulder rotations
Remain lying on the side. Using a light weight ( no more than 3 lbs.). Keep elbow glued to the side ribs as the forarm rises and falls. Shoulders stay down. Neck stays long. 20 on each side.
#6. Wall Squats
Are a great way to build gardening strength while working proper knee and hip alignment. With or without a fit ball, Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Keep knees in line with toes as you bend downward. It is safest not to go past a 90 degree angle. Keep the tailbone reaching down to earth and the belly button scooped upwards towards the back of the ribs. Try 10 squats.
– Consider a back brace or corset support while gardening
It might not cure your back problems, but a brace or core support will remind you to stay aware of proper back placement when leaning over or squatting outside. It will help you be aware of your back.
– If all else fails, ask for help!
Get some help already! I know you love to do it yourself, but it’s not worth the pain and perhaps ultimately having to cut gardening out all together. Plan, design, organize and get some minions at your disposal.
– More Information
A great website with wonderful ergonomic tools and ideas is offered through the University of Missouri Columbia, called Gardens for Every Body.