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Pilates Gardening Tips

Spring finally here!  …If you haven't gotten into your garden yet, I'm sure you will be.  Pulling weeds, trimming shrubs, digging, all in preparation for the planting and growing season.

 

After a day in the yard our back, neck, shoulders, legs and arms remind us that we’ve found and used a few muscle groups that we don’t normally work in our everyday routine.  Gardening not only overloads muscle groups but the repetitiveness of a task can also stress or strain muscles, tendons and ligaments. And while I can’t promise that you’ll be able to totally avoid muscle or joint soreness when gardening season starts, there are some things you can be mindful of to help keep your body well-balanced while you’re digging in the dirt.

 

So how do we stay healthy and avoid these issues while having fun working in the yard and gardening? 

 

Pilates, It’s the perfect off-season gardening training program!  We do exercises while standing, seated, kneeling, face up even upside down. We focus on spine, hip and shoulder mechanics, core support, and so many things to help you become well balanced and aware of how you are moving.

 

Here Are Five Pilates Tips To Keep In Mind While You Garden.

 

1.   Use Your Core MORE.  That strong low abdominal support we work on in Pilates is critical when you’re bent over and working in the yard.  Not only does your deep powerhouse need to work as you’re digging pulling, and lifting, but they need to stay engaged the whole time you’re bent over to support your lower back! Check in on your shoulders… if you find you are hiking your shoulders up, it could be your abs are not doing their job.  Ab strength rocks!

 

2.   Coordinate Your Breath With Your Effort.  You will have maximum core support when you exert on an exhale.  Even if that little weed you might be pulling is small, it may be tenacious.  So inhale to prepare, exhale (pull your abs in, melt your shoulders down) and then pull on the weed!  Develop a Pilates-style breathing pattern that supports your efforts, whether you’re pushing, pulling or dumping the wheelbarrow, digging, just about everything you’re doing and you’ll be amazed at the difference.

 

 

3.   Alternate The Leg You Squat Down With.  We habitually tend to put our dominant leg forward.  If you do this while you are gardening, there’s a good chance you’ll be doing tons of full squats on one leg and zero on the other side.  This will overdevelop your strong side, and continue to weaken your weak side, shifting hips, pelvis, and back out of alignment.  Be mindful, alternate legs when getting to the ground and when getting up. That way you’ll work both legs evenly and you’ll find your body feels better when you’re done. Think balance!

 

4.   Alternate The Hand You Use To Do the Work.  Again, balanced muscle development.  It’s important to think about strength training to develop both sides of your body evenly.  It’s a challenge to use your weaker hand, arm and shoulder to pull weeds and plant.  Can you do it?  Squat down with your left leg and pull weeds with your right hand.  Squat down with your right leg and pull weeds with your left hand.   It can be as much of a brain-game as a whole-body workout to be consciously working the body evenly while you’re digging in the dirt!

 

5.   Take At Least 15 Minutes and STRETCH When You’re Done.  I know you’re tired! You’ve been getting a workout… and if you’re like me I sometimes go way past fatigue when gardening. Lots of leg work is involved in those deep squats.  Your hips and back will be tight and tired. Your body will thank you to do some stretches for Spine Extension, Shoulders, Hamstrings, Quads, Inner Thighs, Outer Hips, Calves, Hands and Feet.  

 

Take care and don’t forget to say hi when you’re at the Nursery, I’d love to hear how you’re Pilates and your garden is doing! 

Michele Harris

Harris Nurseryland

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