We all know that gardening is a workout. How many of us take that seriously and warm up prior to gardening? Judging from aching backs and sore muscles, very few gardeners take the time to warm up prior to a gardening fitness workout. Just like any other physical activity, gardening requires warm up stretches and proper form. Avoid aches and pains from overdoing it in the garden. Keep these tips in mind as you plant and tend your flowers and vegetables this year.
The garden walk
Always begin your gardening workout by walking around the garden to assess the work for the day. This gives muscles a chance to wake up and warm up for the day. Good physical fitness routines always begin by warming up the muscles to do their work. If the garden is small, consider a walk around the neighborhood instead.
Stretch and bend
Gardening requires a good deal of stretching and bending. Gardening often necessitates reaching into inaccessible areas. The gardening warm up should involve stretches that keep this in mind. Slow stretching and bending is a fitness routine that prevents injuries caused by bending too quickly or with sudden and jerky movements.
Take it slow and steady
At the beginning of gardening season, muscles may be especially stiff. It's important to remember that gardening should be started at a slow and steady pace. The gardener may be anxious to get started but should take it easy the first few days. Things will move at a faster pace when the weather and your muscles begin to warm up.
Use practiced motions
Perform gardening activities with precision. Use the shovel, hoe, or rake in practiced movement with proper form. Lift with the legs, rather than the back. Carry through on all motions, as in a workout. Take the time to think about your methods while you go through the warm up. Good fitness is gained through proper body movement, even in gardening.
All fitness routines require proper breathing. Oxygen helps fuel the body for the workout. Human nature leads us to hold our breath during heavy work duties. Be sure to breathe in and out evenly as you warm up and when you get to the real work. Fatigue can set in during gardening due to lack of oxygen. Remain alert and awake through proper breathing techniques.
Be sure to warm up hands, feet and legs by rubbing with warm oil prior to gardening. This is true especially for those with chronic pain and inflammation. Gardening will be much easier on joints and muscles with this preventative approach. I like eucalyptus essential oil mixed with olive oil or vegetable oil for this. The eucalyptus really penetrates deeply into tissue when used prior to gardening.
Weeding warm up
Weeding can be a real workout. Warming up is especially important before doing strenuous tasks. Be sure to stretch legs by doing repetitive, straight backed squatting before weeding in the garden. While weeding, bend at the knees, rather than at the back. Bending at the back to weed or do other garden activities puts strain on the spine. Alternate knees every 30 seconds or so for comfort.
Please note: The author is not a licensed physician. Consult a doctor prior to starting any fitness or exercise routine.
This article was previously published on Yahoo! by this author.