Spring is finally here and many of us have already gotten our hands dirty doing yard work and tending our gardens. Gardening is a soothing hobby and a great form of exercise. However, for those with arthritis, like my mother-in-law, gardening was at one time her favorite pastime, but now has become difficult since being diagnosed with arthritis. I decided that I would try to find tips to help make gardening easier for her so she doesn’t have to give up something that she has always enjoyed.
If you love gardening and find that arthritis gets in the way, here are few simple tips that can hopefully help you work smarter, not harder, in your garden this year.
1. Avoid bending or kneeling; bring the garden up to your level. Have a friend or a professional landscaper help you install a raised flowerbed. Adding a retaining wall around your garden gives you a place to sit while you tend your garden.
2. When digging, pruning and weeding, use tools with arthritis-friendly features, such as easy-grip handles, which help absorb some of the impact and protect your joints.
3. When you have to go down to ground level, kneel on a foam pad to protect your knees.
4. Don’t carry your water. Use a water caddy on wheels or install a hose long enough to reach the entire garden.
5. Plan ahead to avoid multiple trips back and forth by taking all the things you need in a wheelbarrow, bucket or wagon.
6. Use gloves that have a good grip, and try slipping a spongy rubber sleeve over the handle of your tools to help increase your grip. This will help reduce the strain and jarring of your joints.
By using a few special tools and techniques, gardening doesn’t have to be a thing of past — you can exercise that green thumb without causing added pain to your thumbs and other joints. Remember that you don’t have to finish everything in one day. Take your time, relax and enjoy the dirt and the treasures of your work.