Spring is a time of renewal. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians mark this rite of passage every year by raking, pruning and planting to make their gardens beautiful. Yet for the more than four million Canadians living with arthritis, the bending, stretching and lifting that gardening entails can seem daunting. Gardening is actually an excellent form of exercise that helps maintain strength and mobility without putting additional stress on your joints. The Arthritis Society offers the following tips for smart, safe gardening:
- Always be sure to stretch and warm up before working in the garden. This will help reduce stiffness and decrease your risk of injury.
- Use raised flower beds that allow you to stand or sit comfortably while you work.
- Search for garden products that have been designed to be used by people with arthritis. Tools bearing an “arthritis friendly” logo have received a passing grade by an independent third-party research organization.
- Use tools that have long handles to avoid bending or stooping. Handles should be as long as your own height.
- Pad the handles of your hand tools with foam to enlarge the grip.
- Wear a carpenter's apron with large pockets for carrying frequently used tools.
- Make sure your tools are sharp and well oiled. It will make them easier to use.
- Switch tasks often and take lots of breaks.
- Plan rest areas in your garden—benches, chairs, etc.—or use a rolling stool that you can move easily.
- If kneeling, use kneepads or a foam kneeling pad.
More tips for living well with arthritis can be found online at www.arthritis.ca.
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