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Pain Can Rob You of Joy in the Rose Garden

by Iliana Okum, Master Rosarian, West Jersey Rose Society

This is a 2020 AOM article

OUCH!! Gardening can make your back, legs, hips, shoulders, and arms HURT! If you jump into a full day of raking, pruning, digging, planting, cleaning beds, lifting, and general garden fun, you could end up quite sore the next day as well as discouraged about gardening. PAIN can really rob you of the joy in the garden so do not neglect the pre gardening preparation that all gardeners need. As you make plans to head out to the garden, use these stretches and exercises for gardeners. By doing gentle stretching and increasing your physical activity slowly you can avoid injury and extend the gardening season longer.

There are many simple exercises that you can do to prepare for the garden season. There are many resources for those interested in exercising before gardening. NOTE: If you have medical conditions or have recently had surgery on the hips, knees, or other areas, you must check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Caution is always the best way to approach any new activity. Here are a few exercises recommended by experts who know how to avoid pain!

#1 I’m a tree! Helps to stretch your back muscles and legs. With feet hip distance apart, clasp your hands over your head and slowly stretch as high as you can, imagining your feet pushing down like roots into the ground. Hold the position for 5 seconds. Then gently move your arms forward and bend at the waist, without bouncing, to stretch your hips, buttocks, and hamstrings. Hold for a few seconds and stretch up again. When doing this it is very important to stretch gently without bouncing. When you bend forward you can gently bend your knees. There should be no strain on your lower back.

#2 Tree Hugger: Helps to stretch your shoulders Place your arms out in front of you at shoulder height. Clasp your hands in front of you. Turn your palms to face away from you and hold the stretch for 5 seconds, rounding your shoulders. Release your hands and let them fall to your sides. Repeat the hug.

#3 Touch the Earth: Helps to improve length of the muscles in the back of your legs and low back. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Slowly roll your body forward, walking your hands down the front of your legs towards the earth below. Your legs should have a slight bend at the knee and the goal here is to reach all the way to the ground. If your muscles are too tight just yet and touching the ground is not doable, don’t worry, with practice you will be able to stretch further and further. Once you find your comfortable position (one where you feel a stretch in the back of your legs but do not have pain), you can hold there for 10-15 seconds before walking your hands back up and returning to your neutral stance.

#4 Tumbleweed Your Shoulders: Helps to improve range of motion and tightness in your shoulders. Think of your shoulders as tumbleweeds rolling through a field. With your arms loosely at your sides, slowly rotate your one arm forward and one arm back, making a circular motion from the shoulder joint. Rotate your arms forward 10-15 times and then back 10-15 times. Your shoulder joints should be loose and mobile.

#5.Find Your Deep Roots: Helps to improve hip flexibility, tightness, and range of motion. Like the roots of plants and trees, we too have certain positions that help anchor and support our bodies. Find your base of support by taking one large step forward. Allow your back foot to raise up off the ground, your hands go onto your hips and your eyes gaze up in front of you. Allow a long, slow stretch through the front of your rear leg. The front leg is your support, and the back leg is where you should feel a gentle pull as the front of your hip area lengthens.

HAPPY GARDENING! But first, do some preparation to keep it fun and pain free. Have fun in your garden this season.

Some resources to check out:

- Pallensmith.com2017/06/06exercisesfor gardeners


Photos by Rita Perwich


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