April 2013

Gardening without pain!

I love gardening and can easily spend a whole day pruning, digging, planting… If I get carried away, despite my years of Pilates, I feel it the next day!

Here are few tips to help you have a pain free gardening experience.

1- If you have back pain or any injuries, organise your garden so it requires minimum care.

Cut down on weeding by covering the soil with mulch or plants.

Cut down on watering by installing an irrigation system, using Riveria pots, choosing drought-tolerant plants and avoiding planting in full sunlight.

Choose hassle-free plants, climbers or shrubs that need little or no pruning, no deadheading and no staking.

Choose a low maintenance lawn. Keep its shape simple so it is easy to mow.

2- Choose the right tools to lighten the loads.

Garden seats are useful for kneeling, sitting and getting up, when weeding or planting.

Bosch Rotak lawnmowers have ergonomic handles to help you stay upright and keep your wrists straight, have side blades for neat edges and are height adjustable.

Long spout watering can can be useful to reach awkward spots.

Long-handled garden tools minimize bending or reaching.

Step-lever spade help with digging.

Have ergonomic handles to keep your wrists straight, so you have more strength and avoid repetitive strains.

3- Manage your time and efforts.

Wear suitable clothing, shoes, gloves, sunglasses, hat and knee pads when kneeling.

Vary the tasks to reduce repetitive strains.

Share the load with a partner.

When digging, avoid lifting too much soil in one go. Avoid digging or shoveling when the soil is wet or hard.

When mowing, mow in straight lines keeping the body upright and facing forward. Do not twist!

It is not necessary to grip your tools! You will have more strength if you hold the tool as if touching it.

Take breaks: stretch, drink water, walk around your garden …

Stretch afterwards. The glass of wine can wait a few more minutes!


Remember gardening is an enjoyable hobby! Don’t let back pain or RSI spoil it!


PS: Print this out and put it up in your garden shed. You can make a copy for your friends and family. Share it!

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Up and running

Zero to Hero (5K run in six weeks) challenge – it works!

I used to be a good runner in my teens and loved it. I liked being in the ‘zone’ which felt like active meditation. No thinking, just running. I hadn’t run for 20 years but felt like starting again. I picked up the Up and Running program and it seemed like a good plan, so I followed it to the letter.

The program is very well designed. It starts with 10 minutes of walking mixed with running, so is not daunting and gives you enough time to find your pace.  Frankly when you haven’t run for a while, it is plenty. You’ll be surprised on how hard it feels!

It then builds steadily to a fairly challenging time for a beginner. Each session challenges you enough without exhausting you. The last two minutes always seemed very long and were pushing me to the limit. They always felt difficult but feasible.

The 5K run was difficult because I’m not a fast runner and it took me more than the 30 minutes expected.

To my surprise the challenge was not cardiovascular but retraining my muscles to move at faster pace, especially my hamstrings.

But I did it, thanks to my friend Phoebe. I would highly recommend doing it with a friend. Phoebe and I didn’t do all the sessions together but we supported each other throughout the six weeks. If you miss a session, you let your friend and yourself down. So sharing it with a friend makes you stick to the program.

I’m used to one hour and a half to two hours session so 10 to 30 minutes felt like a short training session. It is very easy to fit it in your day.

All in all the program has enabled me to go back to running. Every session I achieved was a little success, quite easily attained, so very satisfying. It built my confidence, stamina and strength, and got me into a routine. I’m running 3 times a week for a while and will see where it takes me…

If you want to start running, just trust the program and feel a hero!

Zero to hero training

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