On the Importance of Gardening Exercises

I would encourage you to start preparing yourself physically right now for the gardening season, to consider the importance of gardening exercises.

Greetings fellow gardeners,  

It is foggy and mysterious this morning. Turkey gobbles are echoing around me, and I remind myself to stop watching so many scary movies. Soon we will be solidly into spring, and the light will be sparkly and bright.

I discovered that PBS is going to present a new series called GardenFit. This series has fitness trainer Jeff Hughes and expert gardener Madeline Hooper visiting several gardens around the United States. Each garden is different, and each gardener has different physical issues. “Taking care of your garden while taking care of your body—that’s our mission,” Hooper says in the show’s introduction.  It may take a while for your PBS station to play this series, but it is available at https://www.pbs.org/show/gardenfit/.

I think this series is a wonderful idea and I would encourage you to start preparing yourself physically right now for the gardening season. While I do not know what kinds of aches and pains you experience in the garden, I am more than willing to share a few of mine.

My Knees

My knees are spent. They are not happy campers and cause me a great deal of pain and frustration. If you are fairly new to gardening, I would caution you to take care of your knees now instead of ending up like me. Kneeling, even on the knee pads, is not good for your knees.  I find that even crouching bothers my knees. Consequently, I have adopted a kind of Tai Chi stance in the garden. I move slowly and deliberately so as not to suddenly jerk a joint that might not be positioned correctly. I widen my stance and bend to weed with various things nearby that I can hold onto if my balance is compromised. At present I am able to do more work in the garden thanks to the knee braces that my physiotherapist fitted for me, and I am still waiting for a call to see where I stand for surgery. I have grown to like my braces and I tell people that I am just like Ripley, all ready to fight aliens!

One of the major sources of pain you will find in the garden is you, dear Reader, using only your dominant hand and foot. Many years ago, I learned how to use my muscles equally on both sides. Now I can weed with both hands and that has solved a lot of problems. 

Doing Spring Chores

Spring is starting make an appearance and this is where your eagerness can be your downfall. If you have a lot of spring chores to do, split them up. Do one motion like raking for twenty minutes and then switch to something that uses a completely different set of muscles. Doing the same thing over and over for a long time is very hard on your body. Also, please stay off your garden until the ground is ready. If it is frozen it is too soon. If the ground is squishy when you walk on it, you are compacting the earth and that is bad for your garden. A lot of those sticks and stems shelter overwintering creatures that greatly benefit your garden, so be aware of that as well.

  Spring! There are buds on my white lilac

Overall, although it sounds cliché, mindfulness is what you want to achieve. If something hurts or even twinges, stop and assess, then change how you do that motion. Listen to you your body. Give it lots of water, frequent breaks, and a good night’s sleep. Enjoy your week. Judith. 

(Email:  sghorticultural@gmail.com)  Veggie Bites are available at https://sghorticultural.wixsite.com/website or https://gardeningcalendar.ca/articles/veggie-bites/

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