5 Stretches for Gardeners!

Hi, hello, what’s up?! My name is Auriona and you’re probably wondering what authority I have to tell you how to stretch before getting out in your yard. I get it. Well, I have a Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine with a Master’s in Sports Medicine and have been working with body biomechanics and athletes for almost 13 years. My passion is making sure people are able to get back to being active after an injury and give them the tools they need to avoid future repeat offenses!

With Spring quickly approaching and the anticipation of warmer weather washing away the frost and snow-have you begun dreaming about dusting off your gardening tools? Are you itching to get back to playing in the dirt but have been sitting inside all winter? No judgement, I totally get it! A nice cozy blanket, with a roaring fireplace and a hot toddy sound lovely when it’s freezing outside but that lounging body of yours needs to limber up before starting your next project! Did you know that prolonged sedentary periods of time without adequately stretching before an activity can lead to an increased risk of injury? I’m here to help reduce that risk so that you can enjoy being outside in your yard all day and avoid waking up the next day being reminded that you aren’t 21 anymore.
Below you’ll find 5 easy stretches to get your body in motion and help prevent injuries!

For these stretches, make sure to listen to your body and don’t push through painful movements! 

  1. Cat-Cow/Camel
    1. If you spend a great deal of time sitting during the week, this movement will be sure to help get your spine moving! 
    2. Start by getting onto your hands and knees so that your body looks like a table (shoulders stacked over your hands and hips stacked over your knees, toes tucked under). While taking a deep breath, slowly drop your belly button towards the ground while looking up towards the sky-this is the “cow/camel” pose. On the exhale, slowly push your belly button towards your spine and up to the sky while lowering your head and looking towards the ground-this is the “cat” pose.
    3. *Modifications: Place a yoga mat, rolled up towel, pillow, etc underneath your knees and/or wrists if being directly on the ground is too painful. If you are unable to get onto the ground this can be done seated as well!
  2. Thread the Needle
    1. While still on all four (table position) take your right hand and reach through the space between your left arm and left leg. If you’re  flexible enough, rest your right shoulder and right cheek on the ground to deepen the stretch. Hold this pose for two breaths and then slowly unwind yourself, place your right hadn’t back onto the ground, and resume the table position. Alternate the movement with your left arm!
    2. *Modifications: Place a yoga mat, rolled up towel, pillow, etc underneath your knees and/or wrists if being directly on the ground is too painful. If you are unable to get onto the ground this can be done while standing as well!
  3. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
    1. While kneeling (back knee on the ground, front knee in the air), slowly lean forward and continue to bend the front knee. You should feel a stretch in the front of your thigh and into the hip. For balance-place one or both hands on the front knee. Hold for about 20 seconds and then slowly return to the starting kneeling position. Repeat for the opposite hip!
    2. *Modification: perform the stretch near a wall or with a bench/chair near by for added stability. Again, if this hurts your knees, place a folded towel/yoga mat/t-shirt/etc. down!
  4. Hamstring stretch-touch the ground
    1. Standing with feet together, take a deep breath in. As you exhale, slowly bend at the waist, folding your torso over towards your legs as you try to touch the ground. Hold for about 15 seconds and return to standing. You should feel this stretch in the back of your thighs.
    2. *Modification: If you are unable to touch the ground, feel free to hold onto your elbows while bent over. You can also do this stretch seated with a straight leg and heel on the ground!
  5. Wrist Mobility
    1. While in the same “all fours” position, place the backside of your hands on the ground with your fingers pointed towards your legs. Slowly rock backwards-you should feel the stretch in your forearms and hold for 20 seconds. With the backs of the hands still on the ground, rotate your hands so that your fingers on pointed towards each other. Hold again for 20 seconds. Flip hands over so that palms are resting on the ground and the fingers are pointed forwards. Slowly rock forward and hold for 20 seconds. With the palms still on the ground, point your fingers out to the sides so that they are not facing each other. Again, hold for 20 seconds. 

I hope you enjoy these stretches and that you find them quick and easy to include into your routine before getting back to building your dream yard! Again (and I cannot emphasize this enough), please listen to your body and make sure that you aren’t pushing it beyond its limits. 

Happy Gardening!
-Dr. Auriona Wright DC, MS


4 BONUS TIPS!

  • If you’re pulling weeds, make sure to alternate which hand you are using!
    • The over utilization of one side can lead to sprains/strains.
  • Get close!
    • Reduce low back strain and avoid rounding your back when you pull weeds. You can do this by kneeling down or using a bench/chair when pulling weeds or planting.
  • Protect your knees!
    • If you do choose to kneel, use a folded yoga mat/towel/etc to give added cushion to protect your knees.
  • Lift with your legs and not your back
    • Whether you’re lifting a bag of soil or a vase, remember to lift with your legs and not your back!

*Did you enjoy this guest writer? Let me know and we can ask other experts to write articles that will assist in your opportunity to Gather. Create. Grow. in your Bkyd! Pass this article on to fellow gardeners and give Dr. Auri a follow on Instagram @awright_sportschiro for more tips to keep you moving!