O My Blooming Back
Tips for taking the back pain out of gardening.
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Buying the Right Tools
The way we warm up, move, and plan can protect our back but so can good tools. Quality tools are better balanced. And the stronger they are, the more work they do for you. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind as you shop.
Gardening uses your whole body — as most of us wincingly realize after a bulb-planting afternoon. So it's helpful to loosen our muscles before getting started — and every so often as we work. Yoga instructor Sudha Carolyn Lundeen lays out some warm-up exercises:
Pelvis tilts. In a chair, standing, or lying down, gently rock your pelvis back and forth, tailbone under, then bellybutton forward. Repeat five to 10 times.
Cat and dog. Get on the floor on all fours, round your back like a cat, then release, lengthening your spine with your tailbone up like a dog, repeating the movements five to 10 times.
Shoulder openers. Put your right hand on your right shoulder and then circle your elbow behind, to the side, and in front of you, winding like the hand of a clock. Repeat on the other side — again five to 10 times.
Skyrise. Put your hands over your head, interlace your fingers, invert your palms up to the sky. Then push your palms and arms backward, dropping your chin to your chest. Pull your stomach in for support. Do five to 10 times.
Shoulder squeeze. Put your hands behind your back, lace your fingers, push your arms outward, squeezing your shoulders toward each other. Pull in your abs, again for support. Repeat five to 10 times.
— Dorothy Foltz-Gray is a contributing editor for Health, Alternative Medicine and Arthritis Today magazines. She is writing With and Without Her, a memoir about being and losing a twin.
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