Being a gardener is great because it keeps us active. All the bending, twisting, turning, pulling can help keep our bodies happy but what about when we have a pain or niggle or pull a muscle, what do we do then? Is there a way to help prevent these pains?
Good news, there are some simple but very effective ways that you can release tension and build some strength in your body to help you garden with ease.
It really does not matter what age you are, it does not matter your current strength or flexibility, I always invite you to start where you are and work with what you have got going on in your body. Whatever your starting point, we will go from there and progress forward.
The first thing I get any of my clients to do is become aware of their posture when they are standing. Two of the more common things I see with people is hump back or rib thrust (with some people combining both).
Hump back is where the upper back is rounded forward, the head hangs forward, people with this shape often complain of sore necks and shoulders, headaches and migraines can also be a bit of a problem here too. We see this shape more and more with people looking down at their phones and working on computers and laptops most of the day.
In the garden or allotment, if you are working for long periods of time leaning forward, planting seeds, digging, weeding or moving planters or compost, you may find that drawing the shoulder blades back can be challenging because your chest and neck at the front will be tighter and the back muscles are not strong enough to hold you upright.
This short video has a couple of moves to help free up the tension and start building some strength in your back.
Rib thrust is where your ribs push forward and you have an exaggerated curve in the lower back. People with this shape often complain of lower back pain and tight hips, sciatica can also be a problem here.
Lower back problems will be aggravated if you pick things like heavy bags of compost with bad posture, using your back instead of your stomach muscles. If this is your shape you could find tucking in the ribs and backside a bit of a challenge because of a lack of strength in your abdominal muscles and butt.
This short video has a couple of moves to release your lower back and backside to help free up some of the tension.
What we want to work towards is a neutral alignment (you can see in the image that my head is still a bit forward of the line – I have a tight neck from being on my phone and laptop too much and need to keep reminding myself of what I teach).
This short video is me explaining how to find your neutral alignment https://youtu.be/nRftqL9xdKg
Training our bodies to start from neutral allows the muscles of the body to fire in the right order so our movement is supported from start to finish. It will help us get up and down to the ground better, lift and lay our wheelbarrows and heavy bags of compost, dig our soil, weed and plant and generally move around with more ease.
In the beginning you might find that neutral alignment is hard work – that then is your starting point, we work from there.