Hit the gym
Gardening is like childbirth.
You forget how much it hurts until it is time to do it again.
Those of us who are still suffering the after effects of snow-shoveling are getting a glimpse into the future.
In a couple of months, we are going to be that sore again after doing the spring clean-up, pruning, planting and mulching.
As if to nip the pain in the bud, Homestead Gardens is offering a yoga workshop this weekend for people with gardening related back issues. (I will have a full list of weekend garden events Thursday.)
What gardeners seems to conveniently forget, along with how much work there is to be done, is that they are also a year older!
Here are some ideas to help you prepare for the endurance test that is spring clean-up.
Hit the gym. If you haven't done anything as physical as gardening can be since September, it makes sense to do some aerobic and weight-training exercises in these weeks before the season begins. Give your arms, shoulders, hips and legs, let alone your back, a chance to wake up slowly. Aerobic activity, like a stationary bike or a stair climber, will increase your stamina.
Quit while you are ahead. Gardeners add another chore and another chore and another chore until they have worn themselves out. Break your spring tasks into bite-sized pieces, write them down, and do a few at a time - not all of them at once.
Drink plenty of water, and then bathe in it. Even if you are not hot and thirsty, you will need plenty of hydration. It keeps the muscles from cramping. After you are done in the garden (but before you have done too much) draw a warm bath and dissolved about a cup of epsom salts in it. Soak for 20 minutes, towel off lightly and then rest in a loose robe for 20 minutes.
Wear a watch. Pace yourself with perhaps an hour in the garden the first couple of times, gradually increasing it, but staying under two hours. (This, from somebody who looks up and sees that it has been five hours!)
Smell the roses. Remember why it is you like to be out in the garden. Sit down on the deck or the porch steps and take in its beauty. Keep a notebook handy to list chores and ideas. Promise yourself you won't go back to work until you have polished off that bottle of water.
Hire a kid. You don't have to do everything yourself for it to be your garden. Find a willing teen-ager and ask for help bagging debris or carrying bags of mulch around. It will cost you a few bucks, but you may be planting the seeds of a future gardener. And we all benefit from spending time with members of another generation.
And remember, this isn't a race.