Gardening with Arthritis

On September 1, 2013

These long days of glorious sunshine make many of us yearn to get outdoors and into the garden. The problem for many gardeners is that pain in their various body parts may limit their enjoyment. Gardening helps you maintain your strength and mobility, so it’s definitely worth pursuing! Here are a few suggestions that might help you restore the joy of gardening.

  • Warm up by walking briskly for a few minutes and then do
    some stretches before you start gardening.
  • Respect your pain. If it hurts, stop what you are doing and either find
    something else to do or change the way you’re doing it.
  • Prioritize and plan your garden. Figure out what is really important to you and
    what can be eliminated or delegated to someone else. Are there seating areas
    where you could sit to rest for a while and enjoy your garden?  Could you use
    automatic sprinklers? Would it help to have raised flowerbeds to minimize
    bending?  Hoe weeds instead of pulling them if your hands hurt.
  • Pace yourself. Plan to rest for 10 minutes every hour. Take a rest
    before you get tired. Use a timer if necessary. It’s so easy for time to fly by
    without knowing you’ve been gardening for longer than you should!
  • Use appropriate tools and equipment. Consider what you need to improve
    your grip, to minimize carrying, and to avoid bending and reaching.  Long
    handled tools, kneeling benches, carts on wheels, enlarging the
    grip on the handles, ratchet pruners, and lever handles on faucets are
    all worth some consideration.
  • If needed, consider a splint, designed to provide support and
    significantly reduce hand pain. If you would like more information
    on splints or management of arthritis in your hands, call 604-294-3911,
    and ask to make an appointment with Joanne Smith, our Certified Hand Therapist.

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