Gardening and landscape care can be a healthy hobby that helps us get outdoors and moving around. But proper form is important to avoid discomfort or injury.
Vary activities and tasks frequently and include rest periods in between to help reduce the strain from repetitive motions. If hands start to tingle or the wrist and fingers hurt or feel numb, this is a signal to take a break and switch to a different task.
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.
Simple tips to keep your hands more comfortable and pain-free during the 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 carpal tunnel syndrome.
- 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.