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Gardening-good for your soul but potentially touch on your body

Elements May 22, 2014

Gardening: Good for Your Soul, but Potentially Tough on Your Body

Posted: 05/20/2014

GardeningAfter being cooped up inside after the long winter months, May most often signals longer hours of sunlight, warmer temperatures and the kickoff to gardening season.

Before rolling up your sleeves and digging your hands into the fresh spring soil, the following tips can help you prepare your mind and body for planting and pruning a bountiful summer garden.

To Truly Blossom, Start With a Plan    

Before you go outside lifting branches, dragging limbs and clearing a path for this year’s garden, it’s important to bear in mind that gardening is actually a pretty physical activity. In the beginning, it can be helpful to set out and follow a gradual plan to maintain your body’s physical health and keep you from getting burned out mentally.

From personal experience as a gardener and from what she’s learned from her gardening clients, Maureen O’Brien, massage therapist at Elements Westford, believes that a good gardening plan should include the following:

  • Stretch before you head outside to prepare your legs, lower back, shoulders and hands for the physical labor associated with gardening.
  • Wear clothing that protects you from the sun and allows you to move around more freely.  
  • Hydrate yourself before, during and after you garden.
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands, a hat and sunscreen to protect you from the sun, and sunglasses for eye safety.
  • Use padding equipment, such as knee cushions, to help minimize the pressure on this injury-prone area of your body if you’re kneeling on the ground.
  • Be mindful of how you move. Make sure that you’re not doing too much repetitive motions and bend with your knees when lifting, not your back.

“The key to having an enjoyable gardening experience is to go into it with a plan,” explains O’Brien. “It’s also important to remember to do everything in moderation and to have fun with it too. If you can, it can be good to invite a friend to join you while you garden. It’s twice as much fun, and half the work.”

A Flexible Body Promotes Seasonal Longevity

On the surface, gardening may seem like a passive activity.  But when you get outside bending, crouching, digging and lifting, your body will soon realize that it’s a good workout that can cause physical strain and pain if you aren’t careful.

O’Brien sees that the most common injuries, aches and pains tend to be in the hands, knees and lower back areas. She always recommends regular massage therapy sessions during the spring and summer months to help repair and relax her clients’ tight and tense muscles from gardening. But, O’Brien also suggests the following stretches for daily maintenance and preparation during the gardening season.  Read more at http://elementsmassage.com/wellness_news/151/gardening-good-for-your-soul-but-potentially-tough-on-your-body

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