The Extreme Sport of Gardening

I would think most people in Victoria have already started their spring gardening or like me are thinking about the outside chores that need to be done. So, that brings up the topic of today’s newsletter – the hazards associated with the extreme sport of gardening.


We are already starting to have clients coming in the gym, especially on Mondays, sore from gardening over the weekend. And, as the weather improves, more and more time will be spent outside in the yard.

Most people would never think that gardening is a hazard and I am sure no one ever thinks about preparing for a gardening session or warming up. Just as most golfers (at least recreational golfers) never think about the need to warm up or prepare for their round of golf, most gardeners never give it a thought as well. But, it is important to prepare. It never fails that as soon as the weather warms up and people are headed outdoors, the gardening injuries start. Just as in the winter with the white stuff (s- – – ), there is a rash of back, shoulder or wrist injuries.


Gardening is exercise. If you think for a moment of all the movements that you do when you are outside weeding, moving soil, planting – they all involve some sort of squatting, lunging, turning and twisting. Have you counted how many times you might get up and down off the ground in a typical gardening session? If you are doing a lot of pruning, think about how many times you might be squeezing the handles on a set of pruners! Talk about repetitive use – tendonitis just waiting to happen.

When you take into account all the movements involved, it is not much different than a session in the gym. Even moving soil with a wheelbarrow mimics the sled pushing done in a typical workout. You would never start a strength training session without being warmed up, why not warm up for the work outside?


I think for the most part, clients here at VWP are better prepared that the average person that isn’t fit and in shape. But, even VWP clients should take just a few minutes to warm up and prepare.

A little warmup that you could do at home just prior to picking up those gardening tools:

Ankle Circles – 10 each direction on each foot.

Leg Swings – Swing leg front to back and then side to side. 10 each direction on each leg.

Squats – 12 body weight squats. Maintain a nice straight back; go only as low as comfortable. Stance should be just outside shoulder width.

Rear Lunges – 8 to 10 on each leg. Watch your posture, stay tall.

Arm Swings – giant arm swings – move through as full range of motion as possible and pain free. 10 swings in each direction.

These few warm ups will take about 5 minutes to do and will just help prepare your body for the job ahead. Remember to use good body mechanics as well. If you must lift, lift from the hips and not bent over at the back.


Remember that gardening is exercise and if you spend 8 hours in the garden you will most likely feel some sore muscles the next day. If you have had a long day gardening, a hot bath with epsom salts, a session with your foam roller if you have one, will go a long way to alleviating some of the aches you may feel the next day.

Now you are ready to take on the back yard. Enjoy.

Till next time,

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