Every year around this time of year the ‘Green Fingers’ come out guns a blazing. All the tools are dusted off, and the ‘War on the Weeds’ is on. But hold on a second. Have those gardening muscles been hibernating all winter long or have you kept active through this very… very long winter? And, even if you have done a superb job keeping your fitness up, have you been strengthening and stretching your ‘gardening’ muscles?
Just as many skiers will get their ‘ski legs’ back a few weeks prior to their trip, it is an equally wise idea to get your ‘garden body’ back.
Here are a few tips from York Chiropractor, Arleen Scholten
Follow these tips so that when you finally get to fill your fingernails with dirt you can focus on pulling the weeds… not your back.
- Warm up your muscles first by taking a brisk walk around the block or down the lane a few times keeping your core muscles tight. These muscles include; abs, lower back, and gluts.
- Only once you have warmed up your muscles would we recommend you stretch. This will help avoid ‘pulling’ a muscle. Important muscles to target will be;
- Hamstrings (posterior thigh muscles)
- Quadriceps aka Quads (anterior thigh muscles)
- Pectorals aka Pecs
Also a gentle cobra stretch (see video), once you have finished is a great idea. Gardening requires a lot of flexion of the spine in areas where extension is the bodies preferred, and stronger posture. Click on this link for a short video demonstrating these stretches.
3. Lift Carefully. Watch how a toddler picks up their toys. They innately know how this is done.
- It is a perfect squat;
- Feet slightly apart
- Toes slightly turned outward
- They bend at the knees, head held high as to preserve the lumbar/lower back curve. This is a much stronger posture as the weight is on the posterior part of the spine, not on the discs, which could be damaged if overloaded.
4. Take short breaks and drink plenty of water. Spinal discs are made up of up to 70% water. When it is hot out, and yes this occasionally this can happen in the UK, you will lose water from perspiration and evaporation off your skin. It is also recommended to move from 1 job to another in order to prevent things stiffening up in a specific posture ie bent over weeding.
5. Ice post your garden shift. If your muscles are sore after a mindful day of gardening. Make sure you have an ice pack on the ready. Sore muscles may often be the result of overuse and inflammation. Ice is a natural way of targeting those sore areas. Wrap the ice pack in a tea towel and apply to the area of soreness. Leave for 15 mins.
6. If you are really struggling try adding raised beds 2-3 feet tall to avoid bending. Vertical gardening is also ‘trending’. Plant up vs. across the ground. As plants grow together this will often become a beautiful green garden wall. This is a lovely, and subtle way to create some privacy if you have neighbours.
I hope you have found this helpful. Wishing you a wonderful and injury free gardening season from Chiropractic 1st York.