5 Exercises for Gardeners with Physiotherapist, Peter Allen

Two people gardening

with by Physiotherapist, Peter Allen from Kieser Caulfield

Spring has officially sprung and it’s time to hit the garden. Gardening is a key part of Australian culture and is a favourite pastime for Kieser members. A survey of nearly 5,000 Kieser members from 2022 found that 40% of respondents participate in gardening. This makes it the second most popular activity for Kieser members, after walking.

While gardening is a fantastic activity for those of all ages to participate in, it can take a significant toll on the body. As Physio Peter Allen from Kieser Caulfield says, “Gardening can be therapeutic and relaxing and can help to maintain mobility and flexibility, however the repetitive movements can aggravate the body and place undue strain on major muscle groups. We often see clients who spend a lot of time in the garden coming to Kieser with significant aches and pains. It is important for those who spend a lot of time in the garden to also ensure they complement this time with strength training.”

By strengthening the muscles used in gardening you can continue to enjoy a day in the dirt and still feel great the next day. 

Exercise 1: F3/F3.1 Lower Back
One of the most common conditions that affects gardeners is back pain. “The frequent bending, twisting and manoeuvring while gardening can place significant stress on the lower back, says Peter Allen. The F3/F3.1 is crucial for those who are experiencing back pain as it isolates the lower back and helps to build strength”.

Exercise 2: C7 Row
It is not just the lower back that can be aggravated with gardening, the upper back and shoulders can also be affected. Upper back and neck pain often results from a combination of leaning over the garden and reaching across rows. The C7 focuses on the retraction movement of your shoulder blades, doubled with the flexion movement of your elbows. It is designed to correct certain imbalances caused through poor posture which makes it ideal for gardeners.

Exercise 3: B6 Leg Press
As gardening involves repetitive kneeling tasks, “gardeners knee” is a common injury. Gardeners knee is a common type of knee bursitis that can cause swelling and inflammation of the prepatellar bursa. Says Peter Allen, “Exercises that focus on the supporting muscles around the knee are key to reducing knee pain. The B6 is great for gardeners as you can train one leg at a time to even out any inter-muscular imbalances that you may have.”

Exercise 4: H7 Hand Grip
Gardening utilises many muscles in the wrist and hand during activities such as raking, lifting and pruning. The H7 machine trains the flexor digitorum muscles which helps to improve your hand grip. This can make a big difference for a gardener as it can help you to grip your tools better, pull roots and lift heavy objects.

Exercise 5: H1 Biceps
Strong biceps are important for any gardener. The bicep muscles are activated in a number of everyday activities but for gardeners they are especially important as they are used while digging with a shovel and when lifting and carrying heavy items such as bags of soil. The H1 exercise flexes your arm at the elbow joint and can be extremely beneficial in increasing bicep strength.

 

Maintaining a strong body is key to reducing pain while gardening. Along with building strength there are a few other things to keep in mind in order to reduce the risk of pain or injury, such as taking frequent breaks, varying your activities and using the correct tools and supports. If you are getting back into the garden this spring chat to one of our team about incorporating some of these exercises into your Kieser program.