Warm up; gardening is work!

Spring is soon to be upon us! (Insert thunderous applause) While most vegetables will not go into the ground until after Mother’s Day, to avoid the last frost, now is the time to plan. While planning your flower beds, garden plots, and hanging basket displays we would like you to remember a few things to prevent aches and pains later:
Warm up; gardening is work!

According to gardening my fitnesspal.com general gardening for an hour burns 250 calories for a 150 lbs person. If you are hauling mulch, digging out a hole for your new blueberry bush, lifting trays of plants or pushing a wheelbarrow you are burning and many more calories. It is safe to say, then, that gardening is most definitely a workout, and as such should have a 5-10 minute warm up. Nobody wants to pull a hammy putting in petunias!

• Start with a short walk (3-5 minutes)
• Hamstring stretch (hold for 10-20 seconds)
• Shoulder rolls backward (10 reps)
• Neck side bending stretch (hold for 10-20 seconds)
• Neck rotations (5 slow reps)
• Large shoulder circles (10 reps)

Proper lifting form
Even if you do not plan on hefting a 40-50 lb bag of mulch, grass seed, dirt, etc. over your shoulder repetitive lifting with improper form can cause back pain. Here are some simple rules for lifts:
• Do not lift by bending forward at the waist.
• Squat down, by bending your hips and knees, to what you are lifting, keep it close to your body, keep your back upright and straighten your legs to lift.
• Avoid turning or twisting your body while lifting or holding a heavy object, instead move your feet.

Weeding tips
Weeding is a fact of life with any garden. However, raised garden beds, container gardening, and the use of weed mat and mulch can help. When those nasty little weeds start to pop up in your perfect garden, though, it is time to eliminate them! Here are my tips on handling the weeds without hobbling yourself:
• Stretch before you start
• Wear gloves
• Loosen weeds before pulling if possible (ex. Using a gardening tool to loosen the dirt, watering before pulling weeds, and removing weeds after a good rain)
• Do not simply bend over at your waist to pull weeds. This can lead to back and leg pain.
• Sit on a stool/bench or use a kneeler to pull weeds.

Best of luck in your gardening endeavors!

Content provided by Dr. Sarah White-Hamilton, PT, DPT