Let’s face it. As you get older, gardening can present challenges for your body. Some of these can be avoided with mindfulness and planning. For instance, many gardeners round their backs while digging. This can lead to a sore back at the end of the day. Instead, get yourself a kneeler. Use your body like a tripod. Put one hand on the ground and dig with the other hand. Your back is squared off and you are well-supported.
Another way to be more comfortable is to sit on a step stool. Put your knees out wide and lean forward to work the garden. This keeps your back straight and your spine protected.
It’s important to minimise twisting. Turn your stool or kneeler around to face each new area. If you are lifting potting mix or other heavy items, stand straight onto the item first.
It’s a good idea to increase your garden fitness by strengthening your core, your quads and your arms. Here’s a few ideas:
Quadruped Taps – kneel on your knees with both hands on the floor under your shoulders. Lift one arm and the opposite leg out so they are in line with your back. Tap the floor 10 times with your outstretched hand. Switch to the other side and repeat. This exercise assists your core and your proprioception.
Wall Squats – stand near a wall and place a fit ball behind you. Use the fit ball to help you move up and down in and out of the squat position. Repeat this 15 times slowly.
Squats with a Stick – hold a one metre stick in front of you and squat down. Hold the squat position for 10 seconds then slowly come upright. The stick will assist your balance. When squatting, stick your bottom out so your knees don’t go past your feet.
Biceps Strengtheners – this exercise has many levels. When 10 repetitions are hard but achievable, that is a right level for you. Start by placing your hands on a wall and pushing back off the wall. When you can do this easily move on. Next place your palms on the kitchen bench and push off. The next level is pushing off a coffee table. Finally, you can do some pushups from the floor while on your knees. Do two sets of 10 repetitions once or twice a day.
Enjoy your gardening and I’ll see you next month.
Tristan Hall is an exercise physiologist with Full Circle Wellness. Call 0431 192 284 or visit fullcirclewellness.com.au