A Stretch For Gardeners

For those who like to garden, it’s a very exciting time of year.   We are ready and waiting to get out there.  Our plans are getting put together and supplies are starting to get ordered.  However, how many of us are thinking about preparing our bodies for garden season?  Now is the time to begin a stretch and strengthen routine to prepare for all that digging and weeding?  In general we need to prepare a routine that provides full body relief, but includes a focus on our particular areas of weakness.  Begin by asking yourself where you felt sore from last year’s experiences.  Those areas need extra work to prepare. Building a 15 minute daily routine will give you much more pleasure in the garden this year.  I guarantee it.

The most important parts of your body to strengthen are your core and the back of your shoulder blades.  Having a strong core will help support your back as a whole.  It will also allow you to lift and hoe without straining the back.   Strengthening your upper back eases the pressures from always leaning forward.  Working with a rowing machine might go a long way.

Try adding in some stretches that open your hips.  While sitting in a chair, cross one leg over the other and then lean forward at various angles to stretch your glute and low back muscles. Leg tightness causes all manner of hip and back inflexibility, so take some time to stretch your hamstrings and quadriceps, too.  Don’t forget to stretch your wrists and hands as well.  Below are details for one stretch that should help almost all of the areas of your body I have mentioned, but you will need to tailor a routine for your exact needs and capacity.

Angle Pose (Konasana):  Stand with feet together, hip width apart.  Step one leg forward.   The further you step forward, the more strenuous the pose will be.  Inhale and pull both shoulders up to your ears. Exhale and pull your shoulder blades together and grasp your hands together behind your back.   Inhale and pull your arms down while holding the shoulder blades pulled back so that you are stretching the chest and toning the back.  Keep both legs straight as you lean forward.  Typically we tend to tilt our torso as we do this, but work to square your shoulders and hips.  Lean forward until you are perpendicular to the floor.  Hold the stretch by breathing strongly with your core belly muscles until you fatigue.

Caution: As with all general wellness advice, not all stretches or fitness advice is suitable to every person.  When in doubt, talk to a professional at your gym, yoga studio, or therapy clinic.

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