Garden Strong: Tips for healthy gardening

Even though you’ve hired a landscaper, it’s hard to resist getting out there in your yard and garden! After a long winter’s rest you’re probably using muscles you forgot you had and twisting your body into positions that just can’t be good.

Here are a few things to think about when you’re doing a little of your own yardwork:

Start before spring. This year I worked with a trainer to help me get ready for the season, and I need to give her a shout-out. Dawn Hollister of Bright Futures Fitness was fabulous and really got me starting the season strong!

Hydrate. Drink water before you start so you aren’t trying to catch up after it’s too late. You lose a lot of your body’s water working in the hot sun, so it’s important to go into it with reserves built up. And hydrate all through the day! You want to enjoy your garden, not pass out in it!

Warm Up. Before you start get your blood flowing before you dig in and walk around for a few minutes. I like to walk around the perimeter of the yard or just down the road and back. It’s a great little warm up to get your body primed for all that bending, kneeling, and digging. And don’t forget to stretch to avoid waking up stiff the next day!

Use proper form. Always squat or kneel instead of bending over. When lifting use your core by engaging your legs and hips rather than your back, and never lift from a hunched over position. Kneeling can hurt your knees, so we use good quality knee pads when we need to. If you’re sitting down, sit as close as you can so you are limiting your reach, and try to be facing the area you are pruning or digging so you aren’t in a twisted position while you work.

Pamper your hands. Use a good pair of gloves when you’re working in the yard for the best protection. Lather up with a moisturizing hand soap when you’re in for the day, using a good nail brush, and then treat them to a good moisturizer afterwards. You’ll need them to look good holding that wine glass later on!

Know when to stop. If your body is telling you to stop, listen to it. It’s being serious when it’s giving you all those cues. Things like back and leg spasms, shortness of breath, and screaming, bloody blisters are all signs that it’s time to take a break, or even stop for the day. You’ve hired a landscaper for a reason, so save all that work for them!

Baby your blisters. Speaking of screaming blisters, here’s a link to WebMD on how to treat blisters. Your best bet is prevention, but we all know blisters happen. I love mole skin, personally, as a means of protection if you sense one coming on. Blisters- Home Treatment.

Get help. If you haven’t hired a landscaper and are finding it’s just too much or you don’t have time, why not let a pro do the work for you? Trust me, you’ll be glad you did! (I happen to know a good one, too!)

Enjoy the view. My best tip for staying healthy through gardening season is to sit back and enjoy the view. Grab a nice cold glass of iced tea (or a cocktail if you prefer!), and make time to enjoy your garden. You’ve earned it!