Summer is over; and fall is upon us, but that doesn’t mean that working in the garden is over. In fact, fall plantings and preparations can be just as involved as prepping and planting the beds in the spring.
All the weeding and pruning can be a great full body workout, and lead to full body soreness. Gardening requires a lot of bending, digging and lifting. These activities can put stress on your muscles and put your body in vulnerable positions. The lower back, shoulders, hands and neck are particularly susceptible to soreness from gardening.
A therapeutic massage can be one the best and most natural ways to relieve the aches and pains many gardeners face after a long day in the yard.
“There is actually massage therapy that is tailored specifically for gardeners,” said Amita Mirani, owner of Elements MassageTM in Mequon, Wis., and a pain management healthcare professional. “Directly after gardening you want to have a gentle massage. You don’t want your therapist go too deep into the muscles and tissues. A gentle massage will help ease the soreness.”
Even better than receiving a therapeutic massage after a long day in the garden is to schedule one the day before tackling some major garden work.
“A therapeutic massage before gardening can get your body ready,” added Mirani. “A massage prepares the muscles by increasing the body’s circulation to muscles and loosening joints, preventing soreness from setting in.”
Mirani says many gardeners make the same common mistakes. “They don’t stretch beforehand, they don’t take appropriate breaks, or they bend from their back rather than their knees.”
There are some simple things gardeners can do at home besides stretching to avoid injury and ease pain.
- Warm up to get the blood pumping and muscles loose.
- Use the proper tools. Longer handled tools reduce the need to bend down into awkward and potentially harmful positions.
- Stretch and take breaks if planning to work more than three hours.
- Drink lots of water to rehydrate while out in the hot sun, have a snack and spend some time in the shade.
Staying hydrated helps keep muscles properly limber while avoiding overwork in the garden will lead to more productivity throughout the day. Mirani urges gardeners to pay attention and assess how their bodies feel every couple hours, set attainable goals and pace themselves.
Lastly, don’t forget to cool down, stretch and rehydrate again after a day in the garden. A hot bath afterward is also beneficial to release the toxins built up in the muscles and tissues. If gardening seems to cause you long-lasting body soreness, visit a massage therapist to help keep your body in peak gardening condition through the fall.