The nice thing about gardening is not only is it mentally uplifting it is also advantageous for our body because it keeps us active. So, I appecaite the articles that proclaim that partaking in gardening is a worthwhile physical activity as it will help keep us in shape. What makes our garening routines such a beneficial workout is it necessitates flexibility, energy and a good use of various muscle groups. Admittely, preforming all of the various tasks required when gardening was much easier when I was younger. However, I have noticed that as I mature (my nice word for growing older) my little aches and pains have increased as I go about doing my horticultural duties. Basically, a gardening chore tends to make me sore. So, I would like to address the gardeners in my audience who, like me, are Baby Boomers or as I like to say Baby “Bloomers”. I dare say we makeup quite a few souls since there are well over 7 million of us who were born between 1946 and 1964, the criterion for being a boomer. In my mind I am still that same active “superwomen” I was 10 years ago, but every time I try leaping those high buildings with a single bound (i.e. spending countless hours in my garden) I end up paying the price for my marathon session. Unfortunately, I have a shoulder that does not want to cooperate with my perpetual youthful illusions of endurance and/or my garden’s ongoing needs, so it is now requiring some physical therapy (and this isn’t the first time).
At first I was reluctant to address this age-related setback, but my physical therapist mentioned to me that other patients she was treating were also suffering from limitation of motion due to age. I pondered to myself “Who wants to hear about how getting old has certain limits?”. I know I don’t appreciate these maturation maladies. Reluctantly, I realized ignoring the issue does not make it (or the soreness) go away, so I have decided to to address it. If you are like me struggling with a sore shoulder or a bad knee(s), a painful back, arthritis, etc. I hope that me writing about it will give you some solace to know that yor are not alone and will give you the courage to be able face the restraints.
You may be asking yourself how can gardening add to your current physical discomforts? The answer is that the series of cumulative activities and/or actions which include both your daily work habits such as using a computer, particicpating in sports, performing household duties etc. that, combined with gardening, is the culprit When it comes to gardenig the cause(s) of the discomfort are usually: too many repetative movements, not knowing when to stop, poor posture, not using ergonomically or appropriate tools or equipment, not taking breaks, etc.
What Can You Do to Limit the Stress From Gardening?
Use a timer (probably the best advice my physical therapist gave me) and limit the amount of time you spend working out in your garden. Hearing the the beep means put up your feet.
Always ice any area(s) that is prone to pain after you have finished gardening.
Buy good-quality, lightweight tools. Using wornout or worse-yet cheap equipment puts a lot of stress on your hands, knees, back, etc. In my opinion at our age we deserve the very best.
Use kneepads. These little pieces of foam can be lifesavers if you have bad knees and you need to get down close and personal in your garden.
Take breaks. You can use your timer to tell you when to get back to work.
Ask for assistance when necessary. Request others to help you such as your spouse, another family member(s) and/or a friend(s). If you don’t have someone you know then hire somebody to help you. It certainly beats blowing out one of your precious body parts which can be a much more expensive proposition.
Eliminate plants that are high-maintenance and are no longer easily taken care of. Believe me this is very difficult choice, but if we no longer have our superpowers intact it makes perfect sense.
Set “realistic” goals! Realize that what you could do in the past may not be possible now and make your garden reflect these evolving changes. Make tradeoffs such as saving the plants you care about the most (for me those are my clematis) and replace others that require more constant care with ones that you know will be less intensive. There is no such thing as a maintenance-free plant but you minimize the attention you need to give them by picking ones that require little or no pruning and/or are less messy than those that are constantly dropping leaves or need constant spraying.
I hope my suggestions help to ease the side effects of the Kryptonite (a.k.a. aging) we as Baby Boomers have been exposed to and that as a member of a geriactric generation you don’t let it stop you from getting out in your garden. Remember to be prudent when you are out there gardening.