Gardening, like any other strenuous activity, requires a dynamic warm up to prepare the heart, mind, muscles and joints for physical activity. Benefits include enhanced blood flow to the muscles and increased range of motion, reducing the risk of injury and next-day soreness.
A quality gardening warm up begins with with five to 10 minutes of light to moderate aerobic activity to gradually increase heart rate. This results in an increase in body temperature preparing the muscles for stretching.
Now, I’m a realistic gal, so I don’t expect you to do jumping jacks in the front yard. Here are a few ideas to get your heart rate up before stretching or jumping into your first gardening task:
- Walk the dog
- Walk around the block
- Walk around the garden and determine your to-do list for the day
- Instead of bringing everything out at once, make several trips in and out of the garage or shed to gather the tools needed for the day
Once you have increased your body’s temperature, you’re ready to stretch. To combat next-day soreness and prevent injury it is very important to stretch the low back, hamstrings, wrists and shoulder musculature.
Let’s review a couple of quick stretches. To receive my full Fit to Garden warm up program for FREE, simply register for my newsletter here.
Lift your arm shoulder level high and aim fingers upward. Using your opposite hand, apply even pressure across the entire palm and gently push fingers upward to stretch the bottom of the forearm. Hold for 20 seconds and switch sides.
Stretching the chest, front of the shoulders, and biceps, clasp your hands behind your back with palms facing in. Keep your chest and shoulders open as you gently lift your arms–don’t bend or lean forward. Hold for 20 seconds.
Warm Up Stretching Guidelines
- Always complete five to 10 minutes of aerobic activity before you stretch
- Hold warm up stretches for 20 seconds
- Effective stretching results in gently discomfort, never pain
- Move slowly and with control while stretching and never bounce the stretch
- Do not hold your breath
- Maintain proper posture (naval in, shoulders and chin back)
Now you’re ready to go outside and get your hands dirty! Be sure to drink plenty of water while you’re gardening to prevent dehydration. It’s also important to begin with light gardening tasks and gradually progress to more intense tasks.
How do you warm up before hitting the garden? I would love to hear from you, share your warm up routine in the comments below!