I had an opportunity to share a few gardening tips for a group last week. To be more specific, what I shared had nothing to do with planting, weeding or selection of flowers, but physical skills that every gardener should incorporate. While gardening is a great activity that many enjoy typically during the warm season, it can cause aches, pains and injuries because of its physical nature. So as as a Active Aging Specialist, how can I help gardeners and possibly improve their experience doing what they love? Well read my tips below, on skills that every gardener should incorporate into their repertoire.
- Do a Warmup- Since gardening is an activity that is physical in nature, doing a warm up is very important. The older we get, the less we are able to get away with not allowing our bodies to be properly warmed up before beginning. Not being properly warmed up in physical activities can lead to increased likelihood of injury and an earlier onset of fatigue. For a good warm up, I recommend that you do the less physical tasks first like dead heading, weeding, and trimming before you get into the more physically demanding work. This would allow your body to ease its way into the gardening, and greatly reduce the chance that you will hurt yourself doing it.
- Focus on Form- Many of us have heard the saying “Lift with your knees, not your back”, this is because your legs are much stronger and able to support weight than your back. Focus on how you lift an object,not just getting the weight up. I was surprised when speaking to the gardeners last week, that a bag of soil can weigh as much as 15 kilograms or over 30 pounds.
- Strengthen your Core muscles- Our core (stomach and back) supports all of our bodies movement. When we have a weak core, our back has a tendency to do more work than it needs to, which can cause back pain. I would recommend that you practice exercises like planks to improve your core strength
While these skills that every gardener should incorporate wont win you any awards for your gardening ability, it may allow you to do it much longer with a lot less pain.