Before you start gardening

Gardening can definitely be thought of as a form of exercise. It has got all the components. It can raise your heart rate and it requires a certain amount of muscle tension to sustain your gardening position and posture. Also it can be very repetitive, so some parts of our body are working a lot harder than others for a prolonged period of time. This is actually a very hard form of exercise and it can be the cause of your back and other joint problems if you do not take care.

To get the maximum benefit and avoid injury we can plan our workout. First just like before any other exercise you need to warm up. Start with your legs and work your way up.

After that think about what kind of position will your gardening require. Will you be kneeling down, reaching up or bending down? Try not to be in one position for too long. See if you can vary it, choose more than one activity and then swap between them. Experiment and determine the maximum amount of time that is comfortable to sustain one position and do not go over it. Have frequent breaks, actually stop, stand up and have a walk for a few minutes before you go back to it.

Prepare your tools, make it as comfortable as you can. For example use something soft under your knees when kneeling down or something lean on when reaching away from your body.

Think about your posture during gardening just as you would when you are sitting down watching TV. When you kneeling down see how far can you reach with your hands before the pressure on your back increases and try to stay within that limit. If you are reaching up or away again determine the distance that is most comfortable. As a rule the pressure on your body will be less the closer you keep your limbs to your centre of gravity. Have a look at the direction you are pushing and try to use your weight to make your job easier. If you have any more questions ask your osteopath at the Harmony Centre.