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Garden Stretching Exercises

Muscles that are stretched regularly are less likely to knot-up or be pulled or torn. Stretching involves pulling on the muscles firmly but not excessively, exercising and conditioning them for the spring garden tasks. Muscles that are not regularly stretched, as can happen over the winter months, can become weak and somewhat inflexible, increasing the risk of a pulled muscle in spring. Body building (weight lifting) involves increasing the size of your muscles, while stretching only conditions and slightly strengthens your muscles. Body builders must first stretch their muscles before weight lifting, or risk pulling or tearing a muscle. And as gardeners we must first stretch our own muscles before be begin to hoe the garden, lift the wheelbarrow, bend over to plant the seeds, etc. Not stretching risks a pulled muscle; so perform some of the stretching exercises that Robin has shown below, and get prepared for springtime planting.

Bill has found that stretching three times a week, with a day off between sessions for the muscles to heal, is adequate. Stretching every day is not recommended for older adults as you might place too much strain on your body. A good stretch one day, and a good rest the next, we have found to be the best program. Always remember to first consult a physician before embarking upon any exercise program.

Let's Get Started . . .

Take a short walk around your garden to warm up your muscles before stretching.

Start out slow at first by holding each stretch for 5 seconds repeating each stretch 3 to 5 times.

Be sure your breathing is relaxed. Keep your movements smooth. Never bouce or strain while stretching. Hold the stretch to the point of mild tension but not pain.

Standing Back Extension

Backward Arm Lift

Start by placing your hands on the small of your back and your legs straight. Lean your body back slightly using your hands for support.

Stand straight with your hands clasped behind you. Lift arms slowly upwards. Hold and than bring arms back down slowly.

Upper Back Extension

Shoulder Arm Stretch

Start with your arms by your side. Lift arms forward and up above your head and stretch. Hold and than bring arms back down to your sides.

Stand straight. Bring your left arm up to the level of your shoulder. Cross arm over so your hand is touching the opposite shoulder. With right hand, grab the left elbow and lightly pull the left elbow toward you. Hold and than release. Repeat the stretch with the opposite arm.

Roll Down

Side Stretch

Stand with your knees slightly bent and hands placed on your lower hips. Bend forward slowly and than roll back up slowly one vertebrate at a time.

Stand with your knees soft. Place left hand on your left hip and your right arm by your side. Slide your right arm down the side of your leg. Hold and than slide your arm back up to standing position. Repeat the stretch to opposite side of body.

Standing Twist

Quadriceps Stretch

Stand upright with your knees soft and both arms bent at shoulder level. Twist your torso to the right. Slightly lift your back heel of your left foot when twisting. Hold. Come back to center and repeat to other side.

Stand straight with arms to your side. Place your left hand onto the back of a chair.* Lift your right leg back and grab the ankle with your right hand. Hold. Repeat with opposite leg.

*Holding on to a sturdy object like the back of a chair can be used to help keep your balance.

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