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How can I keep enjoying my garden when I have arthritis in my hands and knees?

Q) I'm 75 and have arthritis in my hands and knees. I've always been a keen gardener, but I'm finding it hard to manage as well as I used to because my joints are stiff and painful.

Do you have any advice on what I can do to keep enjoying my garden?
Wendy, via email (Winter 2015)

A) Gardening is a great way to get exercise out in the fresh air and can help to keep the muscles around the joints strong and the joints themselves supple.

There are plenty of things you can do to protect your joints while gardening. You can find useful advice in our gardening and arthritis information.

There are three main things that I would highlight.

Lifting safely

If you're lifting things, keep them close to your body to spread the load over the larger joints of your arms and use your thigh and bottom muscles. This helps to avoid putting too much stress through the smaller joints in your wrists and hands. Read more on joint protection techniques.

Use the right tools

Using the right tools in the garden can be a huge help. This can include:

  • long-handled tools to avoid reaching or bending
  • rubberised handles to improve grip
  • garden stools to cushion when kneeling and give support when moving to stand up.

Plan ahead

Try to plan the gardening activity ahead so that you can pace yourself and mix repetitive movements with heavier work. This will help to avoid overloading your joints and causing pain.

Happy gardening!

This answer was provided by Dr Tom Margham for the Winter 2015 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.

Send your questions for Dr Tom Margham to enquiries@arthritisresearchuk.org


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