Gardening With Arthritis

There are various forms of arthritic conditions which can affect the body in different ways. However, in nearly all cases, the sufferer will experience some form of joint pain and immobility. For gardeners, this spoils the enjoyment of undertaking normal tasks such as weeding and planting, often afraid that this extra work will worsen their condition.

easigrip hand for from Two Wests & Elliott

Ask any gardener what their main fear is and they will tell you that they dread any health problem which would keep them away from their gardening. Most gardeners, myself included, would find life intolerable without gardening in some form or other.       

Due to inactivity, people suffering with joint conditions are also at greater risk of weight gain, heart problems and depression. Research has proved that moderate activity does not make arthritic joints worse in fact it can be of great benefit, helping to keep them supple whilst providing exercise. The old fashioned approach of “resting” arthritic joints completely will make the condition worse….give arthritis an inch and it will take a mile!
To avoid your green fingers becoming painful fingers, there are many things a gardener can do to lighten the load;
  • Use tools specially designed for the purpose. Long handled tools reduce the need to kneel or bend. Make sure tools such as secateurs are kept sharp. Blunt and weakend tools always require more effort to use.
  • Use a kneeler when you have to get closer, some are even specially designed seats with handles to help you get back up again.
  • Garden for short periods at a time varying tasks. Keep taking breaks to enjoy your garden with a nice cup of tea or glass of juice.
  • Plan your gardening for the times of day when you feel at your best. Joint stiffness is usually worst in the mornings.
  • Warm up your joints by doing some brief stretches beforehand.
  • Consider an irrigation system linked to a water butt to avoid carrying watering cans. Drip feed and leaky pipe systems are widely available.
  • Plant perennials which will come back each year, reducing the amount of planting required.
  • Only grow plants that are easy for you to maintain. Pruning and clipping can be painful and difficult.
  • Consider raised beds and no dig methods of gardening.
  • Put planters on wheels (available from most garden retailers). This also helps keep the bugs out.
  • Use gloves in colder weather. Cold and damp nearly always cause arthritis sufferers pain.
  • Consult an occupational therapist for advice.
A wide range of ergonomically designed tools can be found at Two Wests & Elliott
If you have any other useful hints, then let us know. We will write them up to share with others and of course give you the credit. If you have pictures, these would be more than welcome.

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