Your Gardening Fitness Program Week 4

Week 4: Stretch: Leg Stretches- Calf Stretch, Hamstring stretch, Hip Stretch and Quad Stretch

These stretches are useful for preventing injury to leg muscles while walking, stooping or lifting.

How To Perform Calf Stretch:

Place both hands on a wall in front of you. Step back with one leg, leaning into the wall, assuming a lunge position. Keep the heel of your back foot flat on the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds then return to starting position. Repeat on the opposite leg.

Tip: Try this stretch after toe and heel raises.

How To Perform Hamstring Stretch:

Place one foot on a step in front of you with your toes facing upward. With your hands on your opposite leg for balance, lean forward slightly until you feel resistance in the back of your thigh. Keep your back straight. Do not round your shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds then return to starting position. Repeat on the opposite leg.

How To Perform Hip Stretch:

Holding onto a tall shovel or dowel for balance, cross one leg over the other. Sit down into the other leg. You should feel a stretch through the back of your hip. Hold this position for 30 seconds then return to starting position. Repeat on the opposite leg.

Tip: Try this stretch after performing squats.

How To Perform Quad Stretch:

Holding onto a wall, post, or large tree for balance stand on one leg. With your hand, grab the ankle of your free leg. Press your leg gently into your hand. You should feel a stretch on the front part of your thigh. Try to keep your knees together. Hold this position for 30 seconds then return to starting position. Repeat on the opposite leg.

Tip: Try this stretch after performing squats.

Exercise: Squat and Toe/Heel Raises

If your garden activities include lifting heavy bags of soil, squatting or kneeling to tend flower beds or standing for long periods of time, strong leg muscles are a requirement. Here are two exercises that will prepare you for such activities.

How To Perform Squat:

Stand with your feet no further than shoulder width apart, toes forward. Place hands on hips for stability. Keeping your chest tall, bend your knees and sit back, as if sitting in a chair.

Squat down as far as your can without bending your knees past 90 Place your weight through your heels to prevent knee strain. Return to starting position.

Do 2 sets of 8-10 repetitions. As the weeks progress you may find that you can increase your repetitions to 10-15.

How To Perform Toe/Heel Raises:

Place hands on a large tree, fence post or railing for balance. Stand with your feet no further than shoulder width apart, toes forward. Raise your heels up off the ground, as high as you can. Tighten your calf muscle. Then rock back onto your heels, lifting your toes. Tighten the muscles in your shin. Repeat. Do 2 sets of 8-15 repetitions.

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