Planting a garden? Read this first
Finally! Spring is here! This is the time of year when we finally get to go outside and start cleaning up the yard, mowing, trimming, and for some, planting a garden. You may not have thought about it this way, but gardening can be a great workout. The problem is, after being stuck inside all winter, your body may not quite be ready for all the bending over, twisting, pulling, and reaching that planting and maintaining a garden can require. Before you work on the garden, we recommend preparing your body just like you would for a workout at the gym.
Here are a few stretches you can do before you set to work:
- While sitting down, put one foot up on a step or a stool. Slowly lean forward and reach toward your foot. It's OK if you can't reach it. What's important is that you feel your back and hamstrings (the muscle in the back of your thighs) stretch. This should not hurt, remember to breathe slowly, and don't bounce. Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds and repeat with the other leg. Do this twice per leg.
- Stand up, and balance on one leg. Grab the front of your opposite ankle, and pull it behind you toward your backside. It's OK to put a hand against a wall in order to help you keep your balance if needed. You should feel this stretch your quadriceps muscle in the front of your thigh. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat this stretch with the other leg. Do this twice per leg.
- While you are still standing, weave your hands together with the palms facing up, and stretch your arms above your head. Lean slowly to one side for 10-15 seconds, and hold this stretch. You should feel the stretch in the side of your torso you're leaning away from. Do this stretch three times per side. Again, no bouncing. Slow, controlled movements and breathing are key.
- Wrap your arms around yourself as far as you can, as if you were hugging yourself really tight. Rotate your body slowly to one side, as far as what's comfortable, and hold this for 10-15 seconds. Repeat this 2-3 times per side. You should feel it through the sides of your torso. This will be really helpful as tending a garden tends to twist your body in several different directions.
Doing these stretches before and after working in your garden will help you to prevent injury. While you're working in the garden, remember to keep your body balanced, keep moving around, and no bending over at the waist. Remember, we want you to pull weeds, not your back! If you do feel some discomfort after working in your garden, use a cold pack on that area for 20 minutes every few hours during the first 48 hours, and heat after that. Massage can also be helpful in loosening tight muscles. If you need help, feel free to call us. Happy gardening!
Jean McConnell, MS, PT, ATC is the owner of Pinnacle Health Concepts physical therapy located in Boardman, OH. You may reach her at 330-480-9362.