Pilates in the Garden

by Leslie Braverman on July 6, 2016

Pacific NW gardens are superb. The humblest home boasts blooms in every season. Our climate is a green-thumb dream, from winter hellebores to summer roses to fall dahlias. But it’s not all Eden. Keeping a yard and garden in tip-top shape takes work. Lots of work. Be ready to conquer and triumph as you plant, weed, hoe, trim, harvest and clean-up with a few Pilates tips.

Portland International Rose Test Gardens, a PNWP neighbor and the pride of the City of Roses

Planting Seeds

Before you ever plant seeds or set plants, you’ve considered space, light and design of your garden. Think about your body too. It needs to be strong to counter the effects of bending over, kneeling and pulling. Be prepared.

Pilates exercise prepares you to know how to recruit your core, gives you the leg strength to get up and down from a kneeling position and the upper body strength and mobility to pull and twist.

Seed to veggie harvest requires diligence and love. And a bit of hand-weeding in an organic garden.

Seed to harvest requires diligence and love. The great reward of knowing exactly how those nutritious veggies grew means you’ve committed to a bit of hand-weeding in an organic garden.

Mindful Movement

Apply your Pilates practice to your gardening. Here are three tips:

1. Organize your spine. Before your bend down to pick up a pot, lengthen your back, bend your knees and connect your abdominals. Just as you practice in Pilates, use the principles to help you protect your back before you lift.

2. Stay in balance. You’ve strengthened your legs and arms in Pilates class. Use them. Gardening is not an asymmetrical activity—gardeners use their bodies asymmetrically. Alternate the leg that is in front when you kneel and switch between arms as you pull. Many injuries—sacroiliac pain, shoulder pain, knee, wrist and elbow pain—can be avoided by maintaining more balance as you work.

3. Limit your time at hard labor. Too much of anything is a bad thing. Time yourself. Set a limit. Do a little less today so you can go out again tomorrow..

Three Pilates exercises for Gardeners

Gardening is a pleasure, but tilling takes a toll. During breaks and at the end of the day, be sure to counter the effects of bending over, kneeling and pulling. Your back will thank you.

One Leg Circle
Bending and twisting tightens up your hips. Place a theraband on one foot and gently circle the leg to loosen up hip flexors and elongate tight hamstrings and calf muscles. To modify the exercise, bend the knees.


Cat Stretch
A feel good exercise that you can do before, after and while you garden. Use a kneeling garden pad to protect your knees.

Standing Side Bend
Elongate the spine and stretch shortened muscles in the sides and back of your body. A garden pad is the perfect width for your shoulders.

Enjoy sensational tomatoes. Smell the roses. Just take care of yourself, intrepid gardener! Stretching before, during and after gardening will make your Pilates experience more enjoyable.

Hydrangeas are sensationally abundant all summer. They require little other than watering when blooming but fall and spring clean-up takes time

Hydrangeas are sensationally abundant all summer. They require little other than watering when blooming but fall and spring clean-up takes time.

 

Remember to join us in the studio for personal attention that will make you bloom. Click for info on personal instruction and small group classes.

— Leslie Braverman

Roses galore, in public and private gardens—and as median and freeway plantings in The City of Roses.

Roses galore, in public and private gardens—and as median and freeway plantings in The City of Roses.

Pacific NW Pilates is studio, school and fitness family under one roof. Click to learn more about our education courses and workshops, private studio sessions and group classes. Or call for details: (503) 292-4409.

 

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