Gardening injuries and functional fitness

Gardening is good for us but is harder work than people think. 30 minutes of digging can burn up to 250 calories, mowing 195 calories and weeding up to 105 calories. It gives all the major muscle groups including legs, buttocks, stomach, arms, neck and back a good work out and can help take inches from the waistline.

But gardening can be dangerous. According to ROSPA http://www.rospa.com , about 300,000 people each year are hurt seriously enough in the garden to warrant a trip to A&E. The most common incidents are falls (115,000).

Here at FLexercise HQ, we started thinking about the aches, pains and ailments that class participants experience as a direct result of gardening. Everything from bad backs and shoulders to broken limbs from having tripped/fallen/ been ambushed by garden implements or statuary. The numbers were extraordinary. Every teacher had a tale to tell.  And we didn’t even consider those injuries caused by sharp tools.

So, armed with this information we decided to consider our own approach to exercise and garden safety. We always prepare for an FLexercise class so why not for gardening? Your neighbours may think you are bonkers but it will certainly be the talking point of the street and it might just help to keep those aches at bay.

075A8013Firstly, make sure you’re wearing good footwear. We always encourage barefoot work in class but we make an exception for gardening. A good shoe or boot with a good grip is a must. Always start with a small warm up. Walk around the garden, surveying what needs to be done. Increase the speed of your walking, swinging the arms and gradually increasing your heart rate. Bend the knees with perfect posture making sure knees are over ankles. Bend the knees with bottom out to stretch the buttock muscles.


075A8007As in class, always think of your posture.  Hollow and tuck the pelvis and then return to neutral to warm the lower spine. Lift your arms above your head and stretch to the sky lifting your ribs away from your waist. Roll your shoulders forward, up, back and down without arching your spine. Shrug your shoulders to loosen them and rotate arms in shoulder sockets to mobilise the area. Remember to do some balance work as well. You may need this when attempting to cut shrubs whilst balancing in a flower bed. Don’t forget to always keep your tummy pulled in and your pelvic floor up. Raise a leg and hold it, concentrating on balancing without wobbling. Hold for 10 seconds and then repeat on the other leg.

Don’t forget your waist. With feet hip-width apart, waist bend right and left. Stand tall, keep hips still and twist in the waist. Finally, hold onto the side of the shed and take some leg swings to mobilise the hip joints. Stand on one leg and rotate the ankle both ways.

So now you’re ready to crack on with banishing the weeds and making your garden look like Monty Don is your gardener. Think of weeding as you would think of square kneeling floor work in class. You can see from the pictures that Ali is maintaining good balance and core with her shoulders down, and a strong spine. You may feel a bit daft weeding like this but it will really help.


Finally, remember to always keep your abs and core engaged when lifting heavy pots and bags or when twisting during pruning and weeding.

We may all not have gardens like those of Kew or Hampton Court, but we can certainly help prevent injuries by taking a little time to follow these simple steps. Happy gardening

The FLexercise team. x