So many of us are looking forward to spending time in the garden this season. We thought we’d share some stretches and exercise ideas to help you warm-up to gardening.
Though gardening can be physically challenging, when we’re out there, we begin to find a rhythm, like the rhythm of all the creatures we encounter in the garden, and our bodies seem to flow in that rhythm. We’re in the zone.
Outside, filling our lungs with fresh air, feeling the soft, cool earth at our fingertips, we’re focused and envisioning the garden that our sleepy garden bed will grow to become over the warmer months. We ask our bodies’ to move purposefully, taking steps toward our vision.
The only problem is that we may have a collection of aches and pains in our bodies, gathered in all that time we’ve spent in the cold winter air. These aches and pains might stop us from feeling our best out there in our gardens.
So, I’m getting my body ready for gardening starting now. I am warming-up, stretching, and exercising to protect my body from injury and pain, to increase flexibility and range of motion, but most of all, to feel my best before, during, and after gardening.
I’ve looked up some movement articles that you might find helpful, and I’m including a little warm-up routine below, in case you’d like to try it out. Of course, it’s always best to check in with your doctor before doing any new exercises as everyone’s bodies respond uniquely. So remember to take good care of yourself.
- 7 Ways to Improve Flexibility. This article talks about the difference between long-hold static stretches and short-hold dynamic stretches. It makes sense that you’d want to do long-hold stretches only once your body is feeling very warm, like at the end of your gardening session.
- How to Warm-Up Properly and Avoid Injury. This one is a fun read! Aaand… It shares lots of great info about warming-up in an easy-to-understand way. I really liked how the author compared muscles to rubber bands. It made a lot of sense to me to picture my muscles, cold and unused over the winter, like cold rubber bands… not very stretchy. And it’s easy to see why you would want to do a dynamic series of movements to get a great warm-up. This one includes a warm-up routine.
- Stretch the Right Muscles Before You Garden. The reason I wanted to share this article with you is that it was written especially for gardeners! It includes a great stretch for wrists, forearms, and hands, which are so important for gardeners, especially because we can hold a lot of winter cold aches and pains in our arms and hands. Some other great movements are also shown. Enjoy!
- The 10 Best Stretches for Better Flexibility. If you’re already quite flexible and you’re looking for some interesting stretches to try out, or if you’d like to get much more flexible, this article might be helpful for you. It’s a slideshow of creative exercises that require flexibility, strength, and balance.
- Valentine’s Day Yoga Love for Planet Earth. And finally, here’s a link to some Yoga poses that can help you feel connected to Mother Earth, if you’re so inclined 😉
A Little Routine to Help You Warm-Up to Gardening
(Remember to check-in with your doctor before trying new exercises and take care of yourself.)
- Stand tall, tuck your chin in comfortably, lengthen your body, feel your strength. Feel the warmth of the sun on your forehead (just imagine it there if it’s still freezing out or the sun isn’t shining!), and visualize your solid footing on the earth beneath your feet. Breathe.
- Reach up with one arm, over your head, as though you’re grabbing onto a rope that leads up to the sky. Then reach up with the other arm. Alternate arms, as though you’re climbing the rope. Feel the gentle stretch in your side-body. Feel your body begin to get warmer. Remember to breathe. Release your arms and shake them out gently.
- Lift up one foot just a little, find your balance (lean up against a chair or a wall if that feels better), and rotate your ankle mindfully, loosening up your joints. Bend and straighten your knee, too. Keep your movements small and gentle. Then switch.
- Rotate your wrists. Bring your hands into a soft fist and open and stretch your fingers in and out a few times.
Now it’s time to really get some body heat happening.
- Walk on the spot. Take gentle small steps at first, then begin to lift your knees higher. Don’t push too hard, just as high as they’ll comfortably go to get your body warm.
- As you walk on the spot, move your arms out in front of you, to the side, over your head, and down toward the ground. Repeat this movement and your body will definitely warm-up but so will your mind as it coordinates your body for you. I find that if I try hard to coordinate I get more clumsy, and if I just let my mind and body feel connected and I relax, the coordination comes a lot easier.
- To warm your body up a little more, try a side step. Two steps to the right and two steps to the left. Keep your arms moving in a way that feels good. You could lift them up to the side and bring them back down as you side-step. Breathe. Smile.
- In case you haven’t started smiling yet, this is the part of the warm-up when you’ll definitely start. It’s free-style dancing. Just close your eyes and imagine no one is watching (or imagine you’re a diva or Tom Jones on stage – depending on your personality!), and just let yourself move to the music in your head, to the sound of nature, or to an actual song you might have playing on your headphones.