Gardening with joint pain

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and your garden is beckoning to you with the force of a sirens song. It’s time to weed, mulch, and prepare your flower beds for the springtime, but a niggling thought has you paused in your tracks: What about that back pain that had you on bed rest for two weeks last year? Or that knee surgery you’ve just recently recovered from? Gardening with joint pain can make a previously beloved, enjoyable task seem anything but.

Chances are you’ve been hibernating all winter, so it is essential that you take care this season and ease into your garden’s delights.  We may not have a solution for those aphids that keep creeping onto your prized heirloom tomatoes, but if you follow these simple tips and tricks you can maximize your chances of having a pain-free gardening season.

First and foremost, drink plenty of water! According to the Harvard Medical School,  drinking the daily recommended amount of water is essential to healthy joints. Basically, having a few glasses of water helps to lubricate the cartilage around your joints, ensuring easy and fluid motion and preventing wear and tear during daily use.

Take out a pitcher of refreshing ice water with you to your garden and take frequent breaks!

Second, you want to take a few moments to stretch before you begin the repetitive motions, of digging, lifting, and pulling weeds. Just 5-10 minutes of stretching can prevent injuries during your garden chores.

Third, keep these simple tips in mind while shoveling:

  • Try to avoid heavy loads- these can lead to unnecessary strain, so opt for multiple light loads instead.
  • Avoid relying on upper body strength to shovel with- your lower body muscles are perfectly equipped and balanced to carry the load, so use a full body approach!
  • If you have one available, use a wheelbarrow to carry loads around the yard whenever possible.
  • If you have recently had a knee or hip surgery, you should avoid shoveling entirely for four months after your operation. Consult with your Orthopedic professional and Physical Therapist before taking on these tasks.

    Fourth, use gardening tools like a kneeling pad or stool  to reduce the strain of bending over constantly to weed your flower beds.

    Last, but certainly not least, pay attention to when you are feeling sore and fatigued and take frequent breaks.  Gardening with joint pain need not be a chore!

Stretch a little, sit back, have a glass of water, and admire the fruits of your labor. Happy Gardening!