Fit To Garden: 6 Tips for a Healthy Gardening Season

Fit To Garden: 6 Tips for a Healthy Gardening Season 

When you think of gardening you probably think of lush plants, beautiful flowers and aesthetically pleasing landscapes. Maybe you think of hauling dirt, raking, weeding, and being out in the hot sun.  

And as you prepare for the season, it’s likely that you’re thinking about where to put which plants, how you can keep the bunnies from once again chewing away all your greens and how you can make the most out of your space.        

There's a lot of thought that goes into the garden and keeping the plants healthy, but what about the plan to keep YOU healthy?

Gardening is very physical - lifting, bending, raking, using the wheelbarrow, carrying dirt. There's nothing passive about gardening... well maybe once you get to the part where you can just sit back and smell the roses, but the set up is all active!  

Not only is gardening physical, in our climate it's likely that you haven't done it for 6 or more months, which means depending on what you've been doing for exercise over the winter, it's possible that your body hasn't done these movements in a long time!      

The timelines of getting plants in the ground, combined with movements and loads your body isn't use to managing can leave people feeling sore and in pain, but it doesn't have to be this way!      

Just as you would train and prepare to get back to running or biking, you should do the same for gardening.

This season, don't leave yourself off your gardening prep list!    

Here are 6 things you can do to help yourself be Fit to Garden:

1. Squatting, hip hinging, lifting and carrying OH MY! 

These are the movements you’ll need while you’re gardening, so start practising them now. 

If you're already exercising regularly incorporate these into your program. If not - this is a great time to start an exercise program!

Need some direction? This is the stuff our kinesiologist thrives on! She can help you either incorporate these movements or create a routine including them, so you'll be ready for all that the season has for you.

You can book an appointment or free consultation with her HERE.     

Check out the videos below for some ideas: 

2. Warm Up

Yes it might be warm out, but your muscles will still benefit from some prep, and your cardiovascular & neuromuscular systems will benefit from some priming. 

Marching on the spot, walking lunges, side lunges, arm circles, twists, side bends and bodyweight squats are all great ways to get your system online and ready to garden! Full body movements that get your blood flowing with out fatiguing you are key!

3. Be Aware of Your Body Mechanics

You can do the best warm up in the world, and have an excellent exercise routine to help you prepare for the season but if you aren't aware of HOW you're moving and holding your body while you're gardening it's all for not.  

You didn't practice all those squats, carries, lunges and hip hinges for nothing. Put them into practice. Use the strength of your legs to help you lift, use your hip hinge to help you get things from the ground. 

When you’re lifting, hold the load close to your body. Have someone help with super heavy or awkward (hello soil bags!) loads.

Instead of standing and reaching far away,  kneel, or low lunge as close to the working area as you can be. This helps relieve stress on the shoulders and back.

Not sure how to put this into practice? Our physiotherapists and kinesiologist and here to help. Book an appointment with them to learn more about what positions will keep you feeling your best. 

4. Pay attention to how you’re feeling

Be aware of fatigue, aches and pains. If you’re starting to feel tired or sore can you take a break? Do you need to adjust your positioning? Maybe you need to switch tasks. Maybe you need a snack and some water.  Very few things get better when we ignore them - so notice how you’re feeling and then ask yourself what you need and take care of it. 

5. Stay hydrated and take breaks

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your garden!

Take breaks when you notice yourself getting tired, and preferably before any pain kicks in!

Drink plenty of water, and if it’s going to be hot and you’ll  be out for a long time, you may want to consider a hydrating electrolyte drink.

Wear a hat and light layers to protect yourself from the sun. We haven't seen a lot of it this winter, and though it's wonderful to feel the sun on your skin, especially at this time of year it doesn't take long to burn, and no one wants heat stroke!  

Make water, light layers & breaks in the shade your best friends!

6. Don't forget Aftercare! 

There's nothing wrong with a little hard work, and that may leave you feeling sore. Especially with tight timelines, it's important to know what you can do to support yourself after the work is done. 

Epsom salt baths, gentle yoga & movement, a leisurely stroll, a cup of tea. There are so many things that can help us recharge between sessions of hard work. Choose the ones that work for you. 

If you know massage helps your sore muscles, do yourself a favour and prebook yours here.

N.B  Muscle soreness is normal when we start new activities, or return to an activity we haven’t done in awhile. The onset of muscle soreness can happen up to 2 days after the initial activity, and should start to decrease after a couple of days. We want to distinguish muscle soreness from injury. So if what you’re feeling isn’t muscle soreness, if it’s sharp, or isn’t lessening, or is a flare up of an old injury, or you're just not sure, get it assessed right away. There’s no need to sit in suffering! The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you will start feeling better and can get back into your garden.

This year instead of focussing all your planning energy on the plants, spend some time preparing your body for gardening season - your body will thank you, and you’ll thank yourself when you can spend more time in the garden! 

If you're interested in learning more, join Physiotherapist and avid gardener Lesley Hughes for her FREE webinar Fit To Garden, coming up on May 16th at 7 p.m. 


And if you’re looking for some individualized guidance click here or call us at 905-333-3488 to book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists to discuss. We're here to help you move well, live well, and BE WELL!