Tag Archives: spine

Digging and clearing

Protect your back when gardening!

This is the time of year when gardens promise both home-grown food and fantastic floral displays. It’s easy to get over-enthusiastic and overdo it.

Today I dug up many giant daisies, montbretia and other perennials  that I had planted a few years ago in this prime spot in the garden near the house. I am reclaiming this sunny bed for green veggies!

I remind myself constantly to be pilates aware while in the garden, whether preparing a bed, sowing seeds or shifting stuff around in a wheelbarrow (…that’s what I seem to do most!). Here are some tips for gardening without pain:

* Make sure you are comfortable in your body and relaxed before you even begin. I highly recommend pilates roll-down to tune in to your spine before you head out!

*  Take a good long drink of water. Remember, we all thrive on more hydration than is habitual to take.

* Be sure you are wearing shoes with good support, so you can feel grounded through both feet. Digging, planting, weeding tend to be asymmetrical movements that favour one limb or side. So, return frequently to stand upright on both feet and sense where your head and shoulders are.

* A gardener’s body weight is often bent over at the hips, putting a great deal of strain on back muscles. It’s better to squat than to bend the back. Focus on maintaining a neutral spine by squatting down to ground level, rather than rounding the spine.

* Lift the right way. Between lifting bags of potting compost or transporting newly-potted planters, there is a lot of lifting in gardening. Remember – do not lift with your back; engage your abs and let your legs do the work!

* Mix it up. If you find yourself in the same position for too long, switch activities for a while and come back to it.

*  Set a stretch reminder In the garden, it’s easy to get so involved with what you are doing that you forget to use your full body. Take breaks during your work to stretch and move around.

*   If any low back pain persists after gardening (or any time), the best thing is to lie down on a mat on your back with your knees bent and your two feet flat on the mat. Get your neck and shoulders relaxed and spend about 20 minutes in this pilates rest position.

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Hope to share pics of my own greens later on! Happy gardening folks!