Maybe Monty Don should take a leaf out of Alan Titchmarsh’s book, “a bit of Pilates and everything in moderation”. Monty Don, like most gardeners, has suffered back pain.
Tickle tum good posture.
Good posture needs core engagement which feels like clutching a credit card between your buttocks while someone tickles your tummy. This keeps your tail bone down and can prevent pain in the lower back. A lazy belly and sloppy bottom will let the pelvis tilt forward and over arch your lumbar.
Back against the wall.
Before you pick up a shovel stand with your back to the wall. Feet parallel, heels against the wall and hip distance apart. Knees face straight forward, like car head lights and in-line with toes. Check when you bend your knees they flex straight forward and don’t knock together or open out. Ensure the legs are straight pulling the back of the knees towards the wall behind you. Shoulders relaxed away from ears and back towards the wall; imagine you have a lemon under each armpit and squeeze them. Finally place the back of the head against the wall, and keep head contact with the wall and you drop your chin towards the chest as if holding an apple between chin and chest.
Leg-stretch, slide up the wall onto your tip toes then pull the heals to the floor to stretch calves and ham strings. Repeat three to five times.
Side bends, keep head and shoulders against the wall and legs straight. Reach left arm to the side with your knuckles against the wall, push down into your left heel as you reach the left hand up keeping knuckles on the wall and reach your right hand towards the floor. Only reach as far as you can comfortably keep your head and shoulders against the wall. Repeats on the right side.
Spine Twist; Step away from the wall, cross arms over your chest and place hands on shoulders. Squeeze the imaginary lemons under your arms pits. Rest your neck by keeping chin in line with cross in your arms and pelvic still, turn shoulder to face left as you push down into our right foot, then repeat to the right
Forward bend; slight drop of the head, keep fist distance between chin and chest to relax your neck, then gently peel spine away from the wall one vertebra at time, like stripping old wallpaper. Straighten your back from tail bone to head as if pasting new wall paper onto the wall.
The secret to a happy gardening.
Keep your tail bone down, don’t have a sloppy bottom or lazy belly, keep the imaginery credit card a clutched between your buttocks and someone tickling your belly.
Challenge your dominant side, once you’ve been down on one knee for five minutes, then switch. If you always dig with your right foot swap to your left for a while. Same with rack up leaves or sweeping paths, try to use both hands and either side equally.
Propose, get drop down on one knee to weed and planting drop down onto one knee. Keep the tail bone down and remember the tickle tum and credit card clutch.
Squeeze lemons; the forward bending nature of gardening can round shoulders and your hunch back. To open the shoulder and straighten your back imagine a lemon under each arm pit; now squeeze them and feel you shoulder blades stick to the back of your rib cage. Keep hold of these lemons as you go about your work.
Apple under the chin. Neck pain poor posture or jerking your neck. Ease up and imagine apple between chin and chest, rest your neck, let your big muscle do the work.