Gardening can be a great way to exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 30 to 45 minutes of gardening can provide significant health benefits, like reducing your risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and colon cancer while helping you to build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints. That’s because digging, weeding, pruning, raking and mowing the lawn require the same amount of energy as other physical activities like walking, cycling, swimming and aerobics.
But just as it’s important to be in good physical condition before you begin any other type of physical activity, the same applies to gardening as well. Because once everything starts to grow or flower, most people have a tendency to overdo it when it comes to working in the yard or garden – and that can lead to fatigue, sore muscles and injuries. The most common types of injuries that people sustain while gardening include back strain and knee pain.
Perform Stretches Before Gardening Tasks
To reduce your risk of stress, strain and injuries, before you begin your gardening tasks, it’s a good idea to warm up your body by stretching. Try these simple stretches before you head out to garden. (Note: Check with your doctor before starting any type of exercise program – and that includes stretching.)
- Neck stretch: Roll your left ear toward your left shoulder slowly. Lower your chin as you roll your head down and to the right until your right ear is toward your right shoulder. Slowly move back in the same fashion. Don’t roll your head backwards since this can put stress on the disks in your spine.
- Upper back and shoulder stretch: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, facing a tree or tall fence post. Grasp the tree or post with both hands. Round out your upper back and shoulders while leaning away from the tree or post. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
- Shoulder stretch: Hold a towel over your head. Bring the towel behind your head with one hand and lower the other hand to below shoulder height. Hold and gently pull on the towel. Switch sides and repeat.
- Truck stretch: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold a broom behind you at shoulder or waist level. Slowly turn your shoulders to the right. Hold this position for 2-5 seconds. Turn to the left and hold. Repeat.
- Back stretch: Lie on the floor. Pull your knees to your chest and wrap your arms around them. Hold this position for a minute. Relax. Repeat 2 more times.
- Calf stretch: Place both hands on a wall in front of you. Step back on one leg. Lean into the wall and take a lunge position. Keep the heel of your back foot flat on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat with your opposite leg.
- Hamstring stretch: Place one foot on a step in front of you with your toes facing upward. With your hands on your opposite leg for balance, lean forward slightly until you feel resistance in the back of your thigh. Keep your back straight. Don’t round your shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Then return to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg.
- Hip stretch: Hold a tall shovel or broom at your side for balance. Cross one leg in front of the other. Sit down into your other leg. You should feel a stretch through the back of your hip. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Return to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg.
- Quad stretch: Lean against a tree or wall. Stand on one leg. Grab the ankle of your bent leg with your free hand by placing it behind your back. Press your leg gently into your buttock. You will feel a stretch in the front part of your thigh. Keep your knees together and your hips level. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Return to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg.
When stretching, make sure you follow these tips, too:
- Don’t hold your breathe. Breathe while stretching.
- Keep your movements smooth and steady.
- Don’t bounce or move quickly.
- Stretch until you feel resistance.
- Stop immediately if you feel any discomfort or pain.
Reduce Foot Pain with Stretches and WalkEZStore Custom Orthotics
Yard work and gardening can put a lot of pressure on your feet, causing pain. So don’t forget to stretch your feet, too. Click this link for some simple foot stretches you can do to help you improve your balance, increase the circulation and mobility of your feet and ankles, and reduce your risk of injuries.
ezWalker® Custom Fit Orthotics can also help you improve your balance while reducing your risk of lower extremity injuries. These custom orthotics provide your feet with the exact support they need, giving you a proper foundation from the feet up. Plus they guide your feet to a better bio-mechanical gait with every step you take around your yard and garden.
Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.®
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.