Development Manager and fitness trainer Molly Anixt demonstrates how you can stay limber for gardening enjoyment.
During this Shelter in Place we have see a rise in the number of people out tending to their gardens. Those who previously did not have hours to spending pruning and watering are now finding it an enjoyable way to get outdoors and stay active. However, with the increase in time spent gardening can come an increase in the aches and pains associated with bending, pulling, squatting and all the other movements required for good gardening work!
For any exercise we do, simple, common-sense practices can help reduce aches and limit strain:
When gardening, it is important to warm up! Doing some dynamic stretches before you get down to pruning business will warm up your cold muscles and prepare them for work. Unlike static stretches where you hold the pose for a longer period, dynamic stretches are controlled movements that improve mobility and range of motion.
While you are working, remember to lift with your legs! This can help save you from painful and, frankly, annoying lower back pain. Before you lift, bend your knees to get down low. Then keep your back straight while engaging your core by drawing your belly button in toward your spine. Push up through your legs, trying to minimize any twisting or bending. It may take some time to make this form part of your daily practice, but your back will thank you for it!
Finally, don’t forget to stretch after you are done! With your muscles warm from your day out in the garden, it is the perfect time to do some deep stretching. Take a moment to stretch your hamstrings, calves, quadriceps and hips. By stretching after you garden, you are relaxing your muscles and keeping them from tightening up later, which can lead to some of the annoying pain we can feel after a day of work. When doing these static stretches, hold for approximately 20-30 seconds.
And, as always, if any exercise or stretch causes pain—stop!