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Do I Need to Warm Up Before Gardening?

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Radius Pro Shovel in Use

Radius Pro Shovel in Use

Chris Adams, copyright 2008, Licensed to About.com
Question: Do I Need to Warm Up Before Gardening?
Gardening is a relaxing activity for most. But it is also a vigorous and demanding activity. Gardening is good exercise. And with any good exercise a good warm up should precede it to prevent repetitive stress injuries and acute trauma.
Answer: If you are going to do more than pull a couple of weeds you should definitely warm up before gardening. A good cool down is needed as well. Practice these along with some ergonomic basics and you can ensure your gardening does not become a pain in the back.

The reason you warm up is mainly to ready the muscles for work so you don't surprise them with too much strain and cause a problem. Warming up for your average gardening does not need to be extensive. Perform some essential stretches and walk briskly or jog for a couple of minutes to get the heart rate up and the blood flowing.

You should warm up before you do any lifting or bending since those are the activities you are most likely to injure yourself with when cold.

If you have a particular problem, like tendonitis or arthritis you should take steps to prevent aggravating the condition as well. Using good ergonomic gardening equipment and proper body mechanics is a good start.

If you plan a strenuous gardening activity, like tilling or re-potting large pots, save that until you've been active for at least a half hour. You should be good and warm by then and as ready for the heavy stuff as you'll ever be.

A good cool down is even more important to injury prevention than a good warm up. Don't just sit down when you are done. Take 10-15 minutes to really stretch. Loosening up the muscles as they wind down improves their health and yours.

So enjoy your garden and take care of your body so you can enjoy again and again and again.

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