It’s nice to be outdoors in good weather. When you have the pain and limitations of arthritis it may prevent you from enjoying the fruits of gardening. Here are some general tips for you to help save your joints this season:
Break the project into steps – avoid overdo anything.
Take frequent breaks – rest at least every half hour or less if you have pain.
Use larger muscle groups when possible – leg muscles are larger (and stronger) than the arm muscles, and shoulder muscles are larger than hand muscles.
Use the leg muscles when possible to lift/carry objects, and use shoulder and elbow to help move things as opposed to the hand joints for gardening
Use foam kneeling pads or a foot stools to reduce the load on your hip, knees or back.
Ask a neighbour, family member, or friend to turn your soil. If you can’t get anyone else to help and have to work on the soil yourself, be sure you use the larger muscle groups, i.e. – your leg muscles.
Use hand tools with larger handles to take the stress of the finger/hand joints. If you can’t find larger handles, use towels, pieces of foam or rags to build up the smaller handles – it will save your hand joints.
Consider planting in pots instead of the garden. This will allow you to work at table height and eliminate stressful bending on the back, hips, and knees.
Use a cart with wheels to carry plants, tools, soil, etc., to avoid the stressful bending and lifting.
Spread your plants out in the garden, so you have less holes to make, fewer plants to plant and less work.
Plan your gardening before you start out and then you can organise which things to take out from the shed or cupboard and avoid unnecessary trips.
Stop when your body tells you to! It is easy to overdo things starting out.
If you follow at least some of these ideas you could find yourself enjoying your gardening a lot more and suffering a lot less!