Gardening in spite of your Arthritis

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!

What about sex?


Everyone talks about it but no one talks about what happens when you have a bad back…

Sometimes, even if you are in pain, you want to please yourself or your partner. For the person with a bad back this can seem like a difficult, if not potentially disabling activity. Actually this is far from the truth is you are aware of what you are suffering from and follow a few rules.

Most peoples pain is actually a combination of the pain they have from an injury (new or old) and the bodies attempts to compensate or protect them from further irritation. Most pain can be broken down into 3 categories and there are rules on what is potentially possible in each category.

Generalisations (pinch of salt please)

– Pain that worsens with bending or sitting movements may originate
in some sort of disc problem.

– Pain that is one sided and worsens
with walking and standing up tends towards more of a facet type

– Pain that goes down your leg when you bend forward and may
have some concurrent pins and needles sensation tends towards a nerve
root origin.

Given that these are only generalisations you can still use the information to help you accomplish your goals :’ ).

First if your pain is more likely disc based then you need to avoid being bent/twisted so any approach where the active partner is behind while the other person is face down. This would work for the more passive partner this would also avoid any bending as well although a pillow under the tummy might help to avoid too extreme a position.

If your pain is is more likely facet based then a variation on a seated position might be useful for either partner as there are no backward pressures. Traditional positions like the missionary position might work for the more passive partner or the more active partner can switch to a more submissive position on their back(knees bent) and let the other partner position themselves appropriately.

If you experience leg symptoms then sideways foetal positions offer an opportunity to be active with no stretch to the nerve roots for either partner.

 This is just a quick list of possibilities to give you some ideas but necessity being the mother of invention it may help you to determine what might work for you.

There are lots of variations that can be tried. I do have a set of descriptions with diagrams that can be sent to you if sent me a note at my e-mail address :

Best of luck in all of your endeavours!!