Many of us worry about what we put into our bodies so we garden and grow our own food! Have you ever thought about what you are doing to your body while gardening? The garden has many benefits other than the produce we take out of it. It not only helps relieve stress, but it also allows us to get vitamin D through the sunshine and on top of that, you get to enjoy fresh air, and get a great workout at the same time!
To ensure that you have years of enjoyable and pain free gardening ahead of you it would be wise to do a brief warm up and short stretching routine to prevent sore muscles and stiffness. Take a short walk or jog in place to get your body warm, then follow the simple yet effective routine below before gardening.
Stretch Routine for Gardeners
1: Trunk Rotation:
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold a rake behind you at shoulder or waist level, slowly turn your shoulders to the right. Hold this position between 2-5 seconds before turning to the left. Rotate only within a comfortable range.
2: Back & Shoulder Stretch:
Stand with feet shoulder width apart facing a tree, railing or tall fence post. Grasp with both hands. Round-out your upper back and shoulders and lean away from the post or tree. You should feel a stretch through the upper back and shoulder muscles. Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds.
3: Chest & Shoulder Stretch:
Stand next to a wall or large tree. With your elbow bent, place your forearm flat against the wall or tree. Turn your entire body away from your arm until you feel a slight stretch in your chest and front portion of your shoulder. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat on other arm.
4: Leg Stretches:
Calf: Place both hands on a wall in front of you. Step back with one leg, lean into the wall and take a lunge position. Keep the heel of your back foot flat on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds then return to starting position. Repeat with opposite leg.
Hamstring: Place one foot on a step in front of you with your toes facing upward. With your hands on your opposite leg for balance, lean forward slightly until you feel resistance in the back of your thigh. Keep your back straight. Do not round your shoulders. Hold this position for thirty seconds then return to starting position. Repeat on the opposite leg.
Hips: Hold onto a tall shovel at your side for balance and cross one leg in front of the other. Sit down into the other leg. You should feel a stretch through the back of your hip. Hold this position for 30 seconds then return to starting position. Repeat on the opposite leg.
Quads: Lean onto a post or large tree slightly for balance stand on one leg. With your hand behind your back, grab the ankle of your free leg. Press your leg gently into your buttock. You should feel a stretch on the front part of your thigh. Keep your knees together and your hips level. Hold this position for 30 seconds then return to starting position. Repeat on opposite leg.
Other tips to keep in mind while in the garden:
Stay hydrated! This will help from your muscles cramping and keep your metabolism going
Try a yoga or Pilates class to improve your core and balance