So you love to garden? Arthritis shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying your gardening hobby. Try these tips to reduce your pain when you're working in the yard.
1. Ask for help. The first garden tip is to know your limits. Examine your to-do list and determine which tasks you can easily do and which tasks you may need assistance with. Consider hiring someone to do the heavy work.
2. Be kind to your body. Occupational therapist Kristan Monroe, St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, Ohio, suggests gentle stretches to loosen joints and prevent injury. Try this simple stretch: with your arms straight out in front of you, reach forward as far as you can.
3. Use joint-friendly tools. Long-handled tools that allow you to stand, not stoop, and easy-to-grip hand tools are gardeners’ friends. Monroe suggests adding attachments that lengthen tool handles to gain leverage. Buy a kneeling pad or even a scooter wagon you can sit on while weeding. (See tools and products that have received the Arthritis Foundation's Ease of Use Commendation.)
4. Practice correct posture. Let your larger/stronger joints do the work when possible. Instead of using your fingers to lift an object, try using the flat palm of your hand, your forearms or even your elbows. Keep items close to your body as you carry them. Stand or sit up straight while you work, and change positions often.
5. Take gardening to new heights. If you find it difficult to bend to work in your garden, try a flower box or raised flower bed to eliminate stooping.
6. Take frequent breaks. When you're gardening, arthritis pain can build if you don't rest your joints properly. Stop and smell the roses and have a glass of lemonade. Well-earned, frequent breaks allow you to appreciate your garden’s beauty, plan your next tasks and get more done before fatigue begins.