Spring Training: Tips for Gardners

The start of spring ushers in warmer weather, sunshine, April showers, and the start of this year’s growing season.  If you are an avid gardner, you’re likely already plotting future flower beds, selecting seeds, and dusting off your gardening tools. The itch to get outside, put your hands in the dirt, and nurture a new harvest may already have seized you.  However, like the plants during the winter months that are tucked away under ground resting until spring, our bodies may also have been hibernating in our warm homes waiting for spring time. If you have not been consistent with your exercise routine over the winter months, you’re body may not be prepared to handle the work, motions, and positions that gardening requires. If you have ever headed outside and worked for several hours during the first few weeks of spring and then suffered for days afterwards with sore backs, knees, and arms, you know what it feels like when your muscles are unprepared. In an effort to help you avoid this pain, we are sharing with you 4 tips to help you strategically prepare your body for gardening season. 

  1. Start Performing Resistance Training, NOW

Gardening is a highly physical activity when you look at it. It requires bending over, squatting down, pushing a wheelbarrow, lifting bags of mulch, carrying plants and tools, pulling weeds, squeezing the pruners, and more! All of these movements require the muscles and joints in your body to do way more than what they do on a normal basis. The only way to prepare your muscles and joints is by incorporating resistance training. Properly performed resistance training can strength the muscles of your legs, lower back, core, and upper body to handle the various positions and movements gardening requires. Stronger muscles mean no more day after soreness, less chance of injuries, and that means you can spend more time outdoors doing what you love. Not sure how to get started with resistance training? We recommend contacting a highly skilled personal trainer who can customize a resistance training program just for you. 

2. Book a Muscle Activation Techniques Session

If you have been keeping up with an exercise routine over the winter months (good for you!), it’s important to make sure that your muscles are performing optimally before taking on this new challenge. MAT is designed to locate poor performing muscles that may have been either overstressed during the winter or underworked over the winter. Once identified, an MAT Specialist will work to bring these muscles up to par thus avoiding any muscle compensations that could lead to an injury.  If you’ve already begun working outside and have noticed some tight, achy muscles afterwards, this is a sign your body may need an MAT tune-up. Contact your local Muscle Activation Techniques Specialist to address those muscles before your next trip outdoors. 

3. Build Your Time Outdoors Gradually

The start of gardening season can be filled with excitement, especially if you’re passionate about being outdoors and gardening is your stress relief.  A word of caution, however. Like an physical endeavor, your body needs time to become accustomed to those new movements and positions. Too much, too soon and it will exceed your body’s current tolerance level. This leads to soreness, possibly an injury, and worse of all, time off from returning to the garden. The best scenario is to ease your way back into your garden.  Start with 30 minutes a day (not 6 hours!), and slowly build as your body adapts. This approach is so much safer for your body, keeps you away from injury, and best of all, means you can keep gardening to your heart’s content! 

4. Perform Resistance Exercises for your Hands

One of the most under-exercised parts of the body is our hands. Other than squeezing a stress ball, have you ever performed any exercises specifically designed to strengthen all the muscles of your forearm, fingers, wrist, and elbow? This is one area of the body we see gardners struggling with each season. To help, we’ve created a video that contains a few basic exercises you can do at home to help you strengthen this area of your body. Your hands will thank you the next time your spreading mulch, digging, or squeezing those pruning tools!

Gardening has been shown to offer numerous physical and mental benefits. Physically, it’s a great form of exercise that lowers blood pressure, improves sleep quality, and can strength your bones and muscles.  Mentally, gardening can lower depression by being outdoors, watching and nurturing something to grow, and by sharing the fruits of your labor with others. If gardening is something you enjoy and want to participate in for the rest of your life, we’re here to help make sure your body can do it. Contact us today with any questions about how we can help your body stay in the best shape possible for all your gardening adventures!