Your garden can be your pride and joy or your source of pain! Here are some tips which can help you to enjoy your gardening without straining yourself.
1. If you can, try to do a little and often – an hour 3 times a week rather than 3 hours on one day. If you only have one day free to garden then take regular breaks – say after every hour of work – sit down and enjoy your garden. (Or even better, lie down in semi-supine (a favourite Alexander Technique position i.e. with 3 paperback books under your head, your feet about hip width apart and your knees bent up and allow your back to open up and your shoulders to relax).
2. Mix it up – by varying the tasks that you do you will use different muscles and joints so will minimise the risk of straining a particular area of your body. Try to do a bit of weeding, a bit of cutting back, and then maybe trim the edges of your lawn.
3. A lot of work can be done kneeling (use a cushion) or even sitting. If you have to bend then bend using your hips and knees rather than bending from the waist or rounding your shoulders. Try not to overreach but get up and move closer and when you do get up take the time to stretch and open up if you have been crouching.
4. Be gentle with yourself – by avoiding strains you can come back and do some more tomorrow. Try to be aware of how you are using your body – if you feel strain then stop right away and take a break – walk around, sit down or best of all do some lying down semi-supine style.
5. Take breaks before you get exhausted. Take pleasure in the activity you are doing – take time to notice the opening buds, the insects, birds and butterflies.
6. Try gardening with a friend and take turns on whose garden you work on. You are much less likely to overdo it if you are relaxed and chatting at the same time. You could even form work teams to tackle big jobs together and help each other out.
7. If you find you have overdone it then take 20 minutes to lie down in semi-supine. Try not to panic that just adds more tension, instead think of your muscles releasing and let your shoulders open out. When you get up roll over onto your side first. Have a few days off and next time go more gently with yourself.
Enjoy your beautiful gardens.