Tips & Tools for Spring Gardening with Arthritis

gardeningMay is National Arthritis Month and according to the Arthritis Foundation, approximately 50 million Americans are living with arthritis today! While arthritis varies in type and intensity, people are able to find relief in a variety of ways and make adaptations to enjoy their favorite activities. With the beautiful spring weather upon us, the following tips can help make gardening more comfortable and enjoyable.

  • Kneeling over or reaching across a gardening bed can get to you after awhile.  Gardening catalogs and gardening sections in stores sell knee pads and/or kneeling pads that can make certain gardening chores easier. If a limited budget keeps you from purchasing those items, you could use foam rubber purchased from a fabric store and cut it down to any size you wish. 
  • You may find it beneficial to invest in a garden cart with wheels and a storage bin.  This will allow you to get around with more ease while having all your tools close at hand.
  • If hand strength or limited use of upper extremities poses a problem, try taking the handle of your tool and building it up so that you can grasp it easily. Pipe insulation and some duct tape can be used and both are cheap. This type of soft grip is especially nice if hand pain is an issue. If pipe insulation is too thick, try using tennis tape, which is usually used to build up the handle of a racquet.
  • You can also doctor up a pair of biking or golf gloves to make grasping tools easier. First, attach a strip of the “hook” side of Velcro to the gloves. Then, attach the matching length of the “loop” side of the Velcro to a trowel, spade or small watering can. Once it is fastened to your gloved hand, you don’t need to rely on the strength of your grip to control the tool.
  • There are gardening tools for sale that offer removable handle lengths (for those hard to reach areas) as well as handles that loop over your arm, which is particularly helpful if you have one arm/hand that is much stronger than the other.
  • If you have the opportunity to have someone provide you with raised beds, it can make all the difference when it comes to accessibility. They are particularly nice if you have back issues or difficulty sitting low to the ground.

Adaptations can be made for a variety of other activities as well. In fact, Sheltering Arms is holding a series of clinics this spring/summer that will offer tips and adaptations for the game of golf. Click here to learn more.

To learn more about arthritis, visit the Arthritis Foundation.

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