Its almost that time of year again! Time for the sunshine to come out and for the flowers to start to bloom. This means getting out into the garden, and with that comes gardening injuries. Digging, bending, twisting, and pulling are all vigorous physical activities and they are all a huge part of gardening, and yet we rarly consider gardening a physical activity. “Many people think gardening as an innocuous activity, but it puts the body in positions it hasn’t been in for months-bending, sitting on the ground, stooping, working on all fours,” says Dr. Hancock, DC of Chicago.
We have to start thinking about gardening activities much like we would think about participating is a sporting activity. “To warm up, walk for five to 10 minutes to get your heart rate up While you garden, divide your activity into thirds- (movements affecting the body) below the waist, between the waist and shoulders, and above the shoulders, doing each for 10 to 15 minutes,” he says.
Before and after a gardening project, Kathi Casey, ERYT, CPI, a health coach and trainer practicing in Massachusetts, recommends a complete stretch and flexion of the spine for a minute or two before and after a gardening project. “Sit tall in a straight chair with your feet on the floor. Inhale deeply as you slowly arch your spine; then exhale slowly as you curl. Avoid straining your neck,” she says.
For those of you who are going to take on bigger gardening projects like diging trenches, Debbie Mandel, MA, a fitness and stress management expert and author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman’s 7-Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, recommends undergoing some strength training to prepare. “To strengthen upper extremities, she prefers triceps extensions and wrist curls with dumbbells. To strengthen shoulders for overhead movements, use two dumbbells in a military press and shoulder raises. “Remember to hold your abdominals in tightly to support your back and recruit core strength, and to exhale on exertion,” she adds.
All in all, make sure that you are physically prepared to garden this summer. I have seen far too many gardening injuries and would like you to stay strong and healthy this gardening season.