- April 6, 2018
- Ideas & Trends
Gardening brings many health benefits such as getting us outdoors breathing fresh air and helping to burn calories. But the downside involves the stress, strain and sometimes downright pain it can bring to our bodies, particularly our hands.
The repetitive motions exerted when weeding, planting, pruning, hoeing and raking can lead to aches and pains or aggravate existing conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and arthritis.
As gardeners, we need to stay alert to when hands start to tingle or the wrist and fingers hurt or feel numb. This is our signal to take a break and switch to a different task. Varying our activities and tasks frequently, and including rest periods in between, helps reduce the strain from repetitive motions.
Begin with posture. Monitor positions and posture while gardening. Orienting the body incorrectly or uncomfortably even for just a moment can lead to pain and injury. For example, lift with the legs instead of the back.
Chose ergonomic tools. Small hand tools such as cultivators, weeding devices and pruners and even larger implements come in an assortment of ergonomic models. There are also tools for left-handed people and special tools developed for people with arthritis.
Go to the garden center to look for tools and implements. Try them out to find the ones that are sized and have the grips and other features that will be user-friendly in YOUR hands.
Here are simple tips to keep your hands more comfortable and pain free during the gardening season ahead:
- During cooler periods such as early spring, garden during the warmest time of the day as cooler temps can impact movement and aggravate CTS.
- Use wrist supports to keep the wrist in a neutral or immobilized position.
- Avoid pushing with the thumb whenever possible.
- Avoid pounding or pushing with your hands.
- Use a full grip when you pick up and move tools, containers and other materials instead of pinching and lifting them with your fingers.
- Rely on a drip irrigation system to water the garden and a sprinkler system throughout your landscape to water the lawn and other plants. This relieves you of the chore of grabbing onto and dragging hoses around the yard and attaching/un-attaching the sprinklers. The time saved on watering alone will give you more time to relax. Your muscles and joints will appreciate the break in the action to recover from those gardening tasks you absolutely need to do.