Avoiding pain while gardening.

Gardening provides Portland-area residents wonderful opportunities to be outdoors and enjoy working with the soil to grow all types of plant-life.

Your garden might be a few potted plants clustered on a balcony or porch, or consist of several plots of flowers, vegetables, fruits, hedges, trees, etc.
Whatever the scale, a garden always showcases each gardener’s thoughts, creativity, and physical effort.

That’s right, being a gardener – especially during the sunny, warm months – sometimes demands a good deal of sweat and hard work:
pruning plants and trees; weeding areas prior to putting new plants or flowers into the ground; and digging up/transplanting to rectify creative-blips from prior years.

So how can we successfully juggle the health of our body with the physical demands of gardening?

The following exercises fit the bill.  You can do them just before, during, or following your ‘1/2 hr to several-hrs of pulling weeds and/or bending forward using a shovel’.
These exercises serve as preventative and maintenance tools to keep your muscles, joints, and posture in good health.

Here are the 4 exercises (they are performed in the accompanying video):

  1. Standing Elbow Curls – stand with your backside against, or as close as possible, a wall. Place your knuckles on sides of your temple – bend your fingers so the tips touch fleshy pads at base of fingers – and point your thumbs straight out; bring your elbows together, then pull your elbows back even with your shoulders; your knuckles stay against temples.
    Do 20 reps (elbows together, then back = 1 rep).
  1. Cats and Dogs – Get on the floor on your hands and knee; knees directly under hips and hands directly under shoulders; straighten your elbows and keep them straight throughout this exercise; smoothly curve your back upward and allow your head to curl under – this creates a curve from your buttocks to your neck – as if a cat with arched back; then smoothly sway your back downward while bringing your head upward – as if a dog; flow smoothly between these 2 positions; exhale during Cat and inhale during Dog.
    Do 15 reps (one cat and dog cycle = 1 rep).
  1. Seated Figure 4 – Sit in a chair w/ upright posture/healthy inward curve of low back, ankles directly under knees, and feet flat to ground; cross your left ankle over your right knee and press your left knee downward to the ground.
    Hold position for 1 min. Reverse your legs and repeat on the other side.
  1. Sitting Knee Squeezes – Sit in a chair with upright posture/healthy inward curve of low back, ankles directly under knees, and feet flat to ground; place a thick pillow or rolled-up bath-towel between your knees; in a continuous rhythmic manner, squeeze (approx 25% of max effort) and release the pillow or roll between your knees.
    Do 20 reps.

The above info is not a substitute for your responsibility for your personal health; in other words, if you suspect a significant musculoskeletal injury, please consult with your health care professional as soon as possible, and follow that person’s recommendations accordingly.