Spring and summer months bring with them the opportunity to spend much more time outside and, as many of us already know, one of the best ways to spend that time is gardening. Not only is it a great way to get some fresh air and become one with nature, but you also get to see the fruits of your labor (pun intended) in a few months time!It also happens to be a great form of exercise that isn’t too straining, while still working many muscle groups at once and burning calories. Also, most regular horticulturers find it to be a very relaxing and meditative activity. The benefits really do seem to be endless, so much so, that it just happens to also be a great way to help deal with and relieve pain.As we know relaxation and meditation as well as regular exercise and being in nature, are all tremendous facilitators for pain relief, as we have discussed in previous posts “Back Pain Exercise” and “Meditate The Pain Away”. So it comes as no surprise that gardening would be so beneficial for people suffering from pain, be it chronic pain or injury pain. However, as with anything we do for pain relief (or in life in general) it has to be done right in order to reap the benefits, in fact, if done wrong gardening could cause more pain or even damage. The rules are not strict or limiting, but assist in the process to make it smoother and less prone to strain.So let’s go over the ground rules (pun intended…again) for gardening:Warmups and cooldowns – as stated above gardening is exercise, and before any exercise it is important to do some stretches and/or take a walk to loosen up your muscles, prepare them to prevent injury and to give yourself a boost of energy and boost performance. Do the same at the end to cool down your muscles slowly.Change up activities – spread out the muscle stress load. Switch up your activities and your position so that you are working different muscles over time. Not only does this even out your exercise it also helps prevent overworking any specific areas.Get help and enjoy – some activities might be too straining and it’s important to know your limits. A good way to avoid overstressing your body is to garden with a partner, not only will you be able to share the load, but it’s always more fun to do things with friends.Use the right tools – this is probably self-explanatory but it is worth a mention. Not only will using the correct tools make your job easier and more productive it will also lessen the strain on your body. For example, using tools with longer handles will allow for easier grip without awkward bending and straining.Use the right techniques – when lifting use proper technique so that you are lifting with your legs and not your back (this often causes injury), also avoid sudden movements since these tend to cause strain. When turning, turn your whole body to keep the back aligned.Pace yourself – gardens don’t bloom overnight, so don’t try to do everything at once, this is sure to stress your body and overwork your muscles, while still not giving you the immediate results you might be seeking. Take pleasure in the process, this is what gardening is all about after all, and you will see the wonderful results in time, and your body and mind will thank you.