With the gardening season in full-swing, I thought that I would write some sensible words that are suitable for keen gardeners and indeed for folks like me who like to potter around.
Warm up before you start: It may seem an odd thing to say, but bending and lifting in the garden takes it out of our bodies. Muscles work better when we have warmed up and softened down the tissue. By doing this, we cut down the risk of back pain and the other aches that so many gardeners suffer from. It only takes a minute or two to carry out both of the following that will address many of the 639 muscles that are in our bodies so if you are keen on your garden, why don’t you give it a try?
Knee lifts: Simply stand and hold onto a door handle. This helps keep you stable and stops you falling over if you get a bit dizzy. Lift the right knee as high as you can. Return your foot to the ground. Lift you left knee again as high as you can. Put your foot on the ground. Repeat right and left leg lifts for two or three minutes or as much as you can manage, each time trying to encourage your muscles to stretch such that the knee comes a little higher each time.
Talk to your muscles as you stretch. They will listen and if they can, will gradually stretch as far as the muscle fibres will allow. This exercise will ease-off the hamstrings, gluteal muscles (the cheeks of the bottom) and the lumbar spine muscles across the base of the back.
Windmills: Keeping the right arm straight, rotate forward as if you were throwing a cricket-ball. Don’t rush. Keep the movement slow and the multitude of muscles in and around your shoulder joint (that have so much work to do when gardening) will relax and stretch-off.
Ten rotations forward and then rest. Then repeat the same exercise but this time taking the arm in a backwards motion as if you were lying on your back in the swimming pool, doing the back-stroke. Try to stretch back as far as you can. Repeat for ten repetitions. Then complete the forward and backward exercise on the left arm.
With the top and bottom of you body warmed up you are just about ready for a bit of gardening.
Products that can help reduce your pain
However, if you are prone to back pain or indeed any kind of joint pain, then it is worthwhile to apply some Joint Ease along the length of the spine (that is a series of joints) to the neck, knee, hip, ankle fingers, toes – indeed any bit of you that suffers from stiffness or arthritic pain. At the same time, I apply some Muscle Easeacross the base of my back, to the tops of the backs of my legs (hamstrings) and the back of my calf muscles.
Then I am truly ready to enjoy my gardening – and with much less risk of injury.
Some other little tips that help:
A bit at a time: Little and often is better than a hard slog that leaves you exhausted.
Full stomach: Never work in the garden just after you have eaten. Give you tummy a chance to digest the food that you have eaten. That’s where much of the blood is directed to help in the digestion process – so there’s not much left for the muscles that will have to work hard when gardening.
Protection: Wear sun-screen, gloves, and sensible shoes and cover up near long grass and bushes. I hear lots of customers who complain about Cleg bites on their ankles and bottoms of legs. To help stop these horrible little things attacking me I put an elastic band around the bottom of my trousers.
After garden: I have a nice shower and then reapply some Joint Ease and Muscle Ease to all the bits that give me grief. In this way I don’t waken as my mum would say – ‘as stiff and an old coo’ (cow) the next morning. Of course if the skin on my hands are hard-worked, I will give them a good massage with our Skin Repair lotion that helps to heal cracks and cuts and leaves them soft and supple.
A nice cool Gin & Tonic finishes my relaxation process and ensures that I have a good sleep after all of the exercise and fresh air.
My crumbling old spine is inoperable. There is nothing that my doctor can do for me other than give me pain-killers that don’t help and burn a hole in tummy, but I love my garden and want to keep doing it myself for many years to come. I rely on my muscles to help keep me standing straight. Our skeleton floats in the water of our bodies, and as bones (as they say) will go where muscles put them, it’s great to give the muscles a bit of TLC just as I have described.
I hope that this advice has been helpful or at the very least, given you some food for thought. Happy gardening!!