Pull weeds, not muscles
It’s that wonderful time of year when landscaping looks better than ever. Not only are lawns and plants receiving plenty of water and sunlight, but gardeners are giving them plenty of attention.
Unfortunately, with that attention comes the potential for personal soreness and injury. Gardening and yard work can be a labor of love, so it helps to physically prepare yourself for an intense day outdoors. Stretches, yoga poses and warm up moves are all great ways to help you ease into gardening stances and alleviate the chance of inflicting physical damage.
The following moves are great ways to prep for yard work or stretch out after. Try them out at any onset of soreness or stiffness:
Shoulder shrugs and rolls- Raise your shoulders to ear level and slowly release them back down, resting a few seconds to separate each repetition. Then after, roll your shoulders forward twice, then back twice. These easy moves can release tightness in the shoulders making it easier to lay down and sit comfortably.
Cat stretch- A slow repetition of this stretch will help your back and arms if you have been bent over gardening all day. First, envision a cat waking up from a nap. On your hands and knees, arch your back and raise your stomach to create a letter-C shape. While simultaneously doing this back arch, tuck your chin under toward your chest. Focus on the motion of every vertebrae with deep inhales and exhales.
Head roll- If you have been staring stiffly at yard work all day, let your neck go limp and gently roll it in a clockwise direction. After two cycles, reverse, and go counterclockwise. Shifting your ear side to side to each shoulder helps relieve tension and will provide a better night’s sleep later too.
Child’s pose- This yoga pose is a staple for most yogis and is especially helpful after a long workout. Starting on your knees, widen your stance so that the knees are shoulder width apart. Drop your hips back to sit on your heels and lean the chest forward to rest on your thighs. The forehead should rest on the floor and arms can rest at your sides or be stretched above the head. Deep breaths should allow a release of tension in the lower back. Additional benefits include relaxation and the release of neck stiffness as well.
Rotate and shake hands- When gripping tools and equipment, repetitive motions can lead to stress in the hands and, eventually, symptoms like carpel tunnel and reduced circulation. Rotating them clockwise then counterclockwise can help, in addition to just shaking them out limply.
If you feel pain during landscaping, remember to take a break and stay hydrated. Resting your muscles and drinking sufficient amounts of water also help you stay limber and flexible.
How else do you relieve tension after a strenuous day outside?
Photo credit: Bennett