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  • Writer's pictureIan Thornley

Back to the garden

Ian Thornley

Is it spring yet? Maybe not quite but if you managed to get a few minutes out in the garden last weekend between the rain and the storms then you may also have noticed some growth on the lawn and some signs of new life just starting to come through.

Gardening can be hard work and April and May tend to be the months I see more patients with pain put down to over exertion in the garden so now is a great time to get yourself gardening ready by building up strength and mobility.

For this post I just want to give you 3 simple exercises which can help you get ready for getting your garden in tip top shape, and you as happy as a daffodil while you are doing so.

These exercises all require no additional equipment and can be made easier and harder depending on your capability and how you progress.

But before I go into the exercises I want to talk about the one thing people fall down on when looking to start an exercise routine – however big or small – CONSISTENCY

Consistency is vital a successful exercise program and will help you achieve your goals.

Consistency means doing the exercises every day and building the time to do them into your daily routine. The exercises I am going to give you will not take long to do so why not link them to something you do every day – using the time while you wait for the kettle to boil in the morning is a brilliant cue, or you could use the time your partner is in the shower to do your exercises instead of that extra couple of minutes in bed.

Whatever you decide to use for your cue try to stick to it and d these exercises every day.

1. Squats

The old favourite and such a good all round exercise for building strength in the legs and

back. Gardening invariably requires lots of lifting and bending and these will help prepare your lower body.

Start with a chair squat – lower yourself onto the chair and then lift off again. The lower the chair the more difficult the exercise. The exercise can be made more difficult by removing the chair, squatting as low as is comfortable and rising back up – use the wall or back of a chair for gentle support if you need to but the power comes from the legs not the arms. Feeling confident? Great - add in some hand weights for additional resistance.#

How many? 10-15 squats a day is a good place to start

2. Push ups

Pushing and pulling wheelbarrows and lawnmowers is part and parcel of many gardeners’ tasks. Push ups will help the upper body cope with these tasks.

Start with wall push ups. Stand at arms-length from the wall with your hands on the wall in front of you. Let yourself lean into the wall, keeping the feet where they are, the back straight and letting the arms bend then push away. Keep the movement slow and controlled. Again repeat 10-15 times.

Too easy? Step slightly away from the wall or go to knee push ups on the floor. This can be progressed to a full push up as your strength increases

3. Lunges

Lunges are great for strengthening the muscles around your knees in particular as well as providing a much needed stretch for the muscles of the front of the thigh which are responsible for bending you forwards. Building strength around the knees can help prevent knee pain when bending, and getting up and down when weeding for example.

Beginning with 1 foot in front of the other then drop your body straight down (not forward!) and feel the stretch at the front of your back leg and the muscles working round the knee of the front leg as you start to rise again. Again 10-15 lunges on each side will start to build the muscles.

Too easy? Try stepping lunges where you start with feet together then lunge as you step forward, returning to your start position.

Remember consistency is key.

These exercises should be manageable for most people, however if you have any current pain or a history of pain or injury then you should get checked by a qualified health professional before starting.

How do you find these? If they are useful then please comment and let me know. If you would like any advice on exercise and staying pain free in the garden then you can book an appointment online.

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