David demonstrating how he and the cat stretch after a gardening workout (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Cool down exercises ease the summer gardening strain

Cornucopias of vegetables don’t arrive at the table by themselves.

By Mary Lowther

Cornucopias of vegetables don’t arrive at the table by themselves. One can read till the cows come home but if one doesn’t put sweat behind the plough, all that enlightenment won’t amount to a hill of beans. I love growing nutritious, tasty crops, but sometimes inertia and a sore back get in the way of motivation. After all, I can buy pretty good produce at the store.

But how can I let good land go to waste? What would my granny say? And now that I know how to make nutrient-dense, delicious vegetables that we can eat right off the vine, there’s no going back.

Yes, it’s work, and sometimes it’s darn difficult work, but the rewards are worth it. Behind every glossy picture of voluptuous crops in magazines lurks a hard worker or three. Gardeners don’t become fit by just sitting around reading those magazines; they put what they learn into practice.

Of course, I learned the hard way and still must steel myself much of the time to just get out there and do the work because vegetables don’t grow themselves. After the last workout when my muscles complained, I remembered that lactic buildup causes muscle pain and that massage helps move this buildup out of them so one could recuperate faster. I wondered if stretching exercises would accomplish the same thing.

Some researchers say that what is termed “dynamic” cool down exercises and “foam rolling” do. Dynamic stretching cool down exercises involve movement at the same time, like moving the hips from side to side, wiggling the shoulders back and forth or shaking out the arms, for example. Stretching muscles also increases blood flow and helps prevent cramps. A foam roller may also reduce lactic acid buildup and detoxify muscles, according to a study reported in the Journal of Education and Training Studies. When cyclists used a foam roller immediately after a workout, they had lower lactic acid levels, increased blood flow and lower inflammation when compared with a control group. Since my back takes the brunt of garden toil, I mean workout, a foam roller may be in my future. I’ve tried them in the rec centre and they felt pretty good, so I’ll keep an eye out in thrift stores.

Now, back to the garden work!

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

Columngardening

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