Joint Protection for Gardeners

​​​​It’s that time of year again. The sun is shining, the plants are growing and many of us want to get outside and get some yard work done. Make sure you are protecting your joints while you're weeding or pruning, or you could be in for some pain and possible recovery time.

Vary your gardening tasks

Oftentimes, repetitive movements can cause strain on joints. By varying your tasks, you give your joints periods of rest and reduce the chance of strain. Try weeding, then pruning, then watering and repeat the cycle. Pace yourself.

Use a gardening stool or chair

Take a load off and try sitting on a stool or chair while gardening. Stooping, kneeling and standing for long periods of time can cause strain on joints, and bad posture can cause aches and pains. Sitting on a low stool will lessen the load while allowing you to be near enough to your work. 

Look for gardening tools with spongy grips

If you are using gardening tools, opt for ones that have a spongy grip. When doing hard work, a tool with a spongy grip will allow you to get a good grip while lessening the strain on your fingers. This will be especially helpful if you have arthritis in your hands. Consider tennis racquet grip “overwrap” to cushion and/or change the size of tool handles.

Avoid lifting heavy loads

If you are hauling mulch or soil, do whatever you can to make the task easier. Use a wheelbarrow, ask someone for help, haul smaller loads in more trips, or plan ahead and have the supplies dropped off near your work area. When lifting heavy loads, follow the age-old advice: lift with your knees, lift close to the body and never twist when lifting.

Use the right gardening tools

If there is a gardening tool you can use to avoid kneeling or crouching, use it. Many tools have extenders so that you can avoid positions and actions that may cause strain. This is especially important if you have had joint replacement, where kneeling or bending could cause dislocation. It is easier to cut with sharp tools, and engines are easier to start when properly tuned.

Click here ​to learn more about our joint and spine services. ​

​Warren G. Harding, III, MD, is an orthopaedics and sports medicine physician with The Christ Hospital Physicians.