Dr. Nichole Nygren
Apr 3, 2023
4 Simple Exercises
We hear it everyday at the office lately…you all are super excited for gardening season! With that excitement, let’s all be proactive and start getting our bodies ready gradually. All that outdoor work can be an abrupt change from winter’s dark and lazy days. Start on these 4 exercises now to get stronger and move your body through some of the motions that gardening and yard work require.
Abdominal bracing: Lie on your back with the knees and hips bent, feet flat. Place your hands at the sides of your stomach, just above the hard bones that stick out at the front of your pelvis. Imagine drawing your bellybutton toward your spine while tightening the abdominals. Hold the muscle contraction for 3-5 seconds and perform 10 repetitions. Once you have good control of these muscles lying down, try bracing while standing. After that is easier, try walking and light lifting while holding the abdominal muscles tight.
Chair squats: Think of this as a slow way to get up and down from a chair. Preferably, do this without the help of your hands. Start with a stance slightly wider than your shoulders. Lower slowly to a chair over 2-3 seconds. As quickly as you can tolerate, stand back up from the chair over another 2-3 seconds. You’ll need to stay toward the front of the chair. If you can easily go up and down a couple times, try not to even bear weight on the chair, just use it as a reference point to lightly touch. Perform enough repetitions to make your thighs feel tired, about 10-20 times. As you gain strength and confidence, you could take the chair away.
Golfer’s lift: Starting in a standing position, pivot your trunk forward from the hip of the weight-bearing leg. The other leg raises up behind you for every same degree the body goes downward. Lower down and return to standing. Emphasize keeping your back straight. You may want to hold onto a countertop or table with one hand when trying this the first few times. Repeat 10-20 times. Switch sides. Once you have the motion down, try it without holding on for balance.
Bent over rows: It’s nearly impossible to do much gardening without bending over sometimes. And the rowing motion is a way to use the shoulder blade muscles you need to pull weeds, use a hoe or lift. You will probably want to do this with some light weights of 3-10 pounds in each hand. Bend forward from your hips, not your low back. In fact, focus on keeping the entire back from the neck down in a straight line. Once there, allow the weights to drop forward toward the ground and then pull the arms back toward you, as if you were rowing a boat. Squeeze the shoulder blades together. Do not shrug the shoulders up toward your ears. Drop the arms down and repeat. Perform 10-20 repetitions.
Of course there many more exercise you could do to get ready but your back will thank you for at least doing these!