Many gardeners wish they had bodies that felt as green as their thumbs. The only thing that comes easily from gardening is the joy and satisfaction it brings. The rest is hard work.
Many gardeners are surprised to find their bodies creaky and less youthful with each passing season. It’s important to stay in “gardening shape” so weekend warrior aches and pains don’t keep you out of the garden.
Return to Gardening Shape
Stretching is one essential activity for gardeners. Why? Because stretching:
• makes it easier to move
• taps into hidden strength in the muscles
• reduces the risk of injury
• improves balance and coordination
• decreases soreness in the following days
Best Stretches for Gardeners
1 – Prepare the backs of the legs for lots of bending and lifting. Keep the knees straight, relax your neck and shoulders.
2 – If you have a history of low back pain, lie down rather than stand to stretch the legs. Keep both knees straight, reach up through the heel of the foot in the air.
3 – Reduce neck and shoulder discomfort. Hold a long handled tool in front of you with hands spread wide. Keep your arms straight, reach up and overhead until you feel the stretch. This is a gardener’s favorite!
4 – Twist to ease the repetitive strain raking and shoveling puts on the muscles of your spine. Sit up straight, twist in both directions.
5 – Bend to the side as you reach over your head with a straight arm. Keep both hips down. Stretch both sides.
Maintain each stretch for a minimum of 90 seconds. A longer stretch increases the flexibility of the tough connective tissue called fascia in addition to the muscle itself. This maximizes the benefits of your efforts. Trust the sensations you feel in your body to discern whether a particular stretch is right for you. Stretch mindfully, especially as your stretches interact with the symptoms of any preexisting conditions you may have. A qualified health professional can help you match your particular needs with appropriate stretches.
Taking the time to work with your body in this way will help you improve your garden by increasing your stamina. You are as youthful as you feel, and stretching makes you feel great.
Owen Dodge is a North Carolina licensed massage and bodywork therapist who has helped lots of gardeners spring into spring. You many contact him at (919) 698-2094 or www.trianglebodytherapy.com.