As I begin this article it is currently 15 degrees outside! Spring sure seems a long way off right now but it’s important to remember that part of your planning for gardening in the spring should also be about preparing your body too! All of that kneeling, lifting and bending gardeners do, especially early in the season, can put a strain on our body. However, there are things we can begin doing now that may reduce or even avoid some aches and pains later.
Spring gardening chores require that we use a variety of muscles and joints. The muscles in our arms, legs and back bear the brunt of our gardening tasks and getting them in “garden shape” is something you should start doing right now! Exercise is an ideal way to strengthen your muscles and stretching will improve your flexibility. Both of these activities can help avoid strains and prolonged stiffness and pain that come with yard work. Some beneficial exercises include walking, jumping jacks and jumping rope. These will get your muscles warmed up and you can then proceed to stretch. Yoga is a great stretching exercise and something you can easily do at home!
While exercise and stretching are important ways to prepare your body for spring gardening there are other steps you can take once the season arrives to help avoid injuries and reduce soreness. When the season finally arrives we’re tempted to dive right into our gardening to-do list but you’ll want to make sure you don’t try to do too much too soon. I’m sure many of you have made the same mistake I have and overdone it that first mild weekend that you can really work outdoors. Now I do a little planning first and break that to-do list down into smaller pieces. I also make sure that I take a rest between tasks so that my muscles don’t become fatigued which often causes you to injure yourself.
Another thing to remember is that just because it may not be warm in your area of the country doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be drinking plenty of water. Dehydration can take place even at cooler temperatures. Most physicians recommend that you consume six 8 ounce glasses of water a day so keep your water bottle handy and drink frequently while you are working. I find that keeping hydrated gives me the energy I need to complete my tasks; so make sure you drink up!
Finally, it’s important to remember that before you tackle any project make sure you have the appropriate tools! It is possible to use the wrong tool for a job and the next thing you know you’ve hurt yourself. I recall using a pruning tool on a thick tree branch where a saw would have been more appropriate and I ended up pulling a chest muscle which took months to heal properly. Hopefully, this can serve as motivation to get your body ready for spring now so you can enjoy the season a whole lot more!