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May 14, 2018 OHIOHEALTH
Gardening Stretches: Pain-Free Gardening

Spring is finally here, and you’re ready to get that garden going. The problem is, after the first hour, your body just can’t take anymore. You want beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables to be the results of all your hard work, not pain and stiffness. Is there a way to actually enjoy the fruits of your labor? Absolutely! It just takes a little planning.

Keep the Pain Out of Your Garden

Whether you view gardening as a hobby or a chore, if you’re a homeowner, it’s likely a part of your life. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be painful.

Tips for Before You Get Started

You can ward off pain and stiffness before you pull your first weed. Take a look at these tips for pain-free gardening.

  • Get the right equipment. Long-handled tools, gardening benches and knee cushions can all make gardening more comfortable. Also, consider using containers or a raised bed so that you don’t have to work on the ground.
  • Set realistic goals. Are you planning to give your entire yard a makeover in one day? Maybe you should rethink that, or at least recruit help. Gardening is a physical activity, and just like when you exercise too much, your body’s going to complain.
  • Get your muscles warmed up. An easy 10-minute walk is all you need to get that blood pumping and those muscles ready.
  • Don’t kneel on both knees. Keep one foot on the ground to take pressure off your low back. This is also where that knee cushion and gardening bench come in!
  • Watch your form. You’re most likely to injure your back when you bend at the waist and reach. Make sure to bend at the knees (squat), get as close as possible to what you’re reaching for and use your stomach muscles when you’re lifting something or pulling a weed.
  • Mix it up. Alternate your activities so that you’re not staying in the same position or performing the same movement for too long.
  • Listen to your body. Be mindful of how your body feels. If you start to feel stiff or sore, stretch, switch to a different gardening activity or take a break.

Stretches to Loosen Up During and After Your Gardening Session

Even when you take all the proper precautions, gardening is still a workout. Stretching while you’re gardening and after will help you recover faster. Any time a muscle feels tight or sore during your gardening session, take a stretch break. When you’re finished, do a stretch-session that targets any sore areas.

Gardening commonly impacts your:

  • Shoulders
  • Lower back
  • Hips

Not sure where to start with your garden? How about starting small? Check out our guide to container gardening

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