Friday 5 June 2015

Pilates in the Garden

Gardening is therapeutic, relaxing and good for the soul...    But it isn't always great for your back...

This can be because of overdoing it when spring arrives, having had the winter off.   Or it can be due to repetitive actions such as digging or heavy lifting.   It might be that excessive gardening triggers an underlying back problem.  

Being Body Aware
As with all physical activity, it helps to be body aware while you're gardening.  You could ask yourself;

Do my shoulders tense and creep upwards when I lift something heavy?  
Does my neck tense as I dig up weeds?

Is that hurting my back?

Can I find a good squat technique as I lift the heavy wheelbarrow?  

Can I work on all-fours instead of standing and weeding double-bent for hours?

Going the extra mile!
If you open your garden for the National Garden Scheme for charity you're likely to be doing a lot of gardening, as I'm finding out..!

Warming Up
As with all exercise, it's good to warm up first.  With a back issue that could be some Standing Side Bends and Spine Twists.   And if shoulders and neck muscles are tight, a Neck Stretch.

It's also good to be able to pace yourself in the garden and progress the intensity you work at over time.  And if you find yourself doing an 11 hour day in the garden (for me, last Saturday!) try to build in a recovery day in to your week.

And if you have time off on Sunday the 14th of June between 2.00 and 6.00, come along to East Hagbourne Open Gardens to see ten different gardens all looking great!

Happy Gardening!


  1. Charlie Warrington5 June 2015 at 19:30

    Fantastic blog Caroline. Pilates has helped me think about how I work in the garden and being a gardener for a living I do it a lot! I hadn't thought about doing a warm up before I start I'll try that tomorrow as I think it might be another 11 hour day in my garden getting it ready for NGS Open Gardens on the 14th.

    1. Thanks Charlie, and good luck out there with tomorrow's marathon gardening session!

  2. Fantastic ideas for gardening exercises, I'd love to come and see all the gardens. Yours looks lovely by the way.

  3. Laurie, age 135 June 2015 at 20:37

    Hey Mum, I know how hard you've been working in the garden and so I know how much these exercises benifit gardeners like you. Looking forward to the open gardens, I hope people will enjoy our garden as much as we do! xxx

  4. I can't compete with you gardeners that do 11 hour days-but thanks for the advice about warming up before gardening. I shall certainly do that before venturing outside over the next two weeks-and best wishes for East Hagbourne Open Gardens on 14th.
    Jean R

  5. Thanks Jean and I definitely don't recommend 11 hours of gardening in a day! All the best for Blewbury Open Gardens on the 21st!

  6. I completely agree that gardening & Pilates are a perfect mix Caroline.
    A day in the garden is a pleasure now!
    All the best to you & the rest of the East Hagbourne gardeners on your Open Day.
    I know what a tremendous effort it has been.
    Mum x

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