Preventing Gardening Injuries

By Amanda Edsell, OTR/L, CHT   

Many Americans give up their love of gardening every year due to persistent pain and stiffness in their hands, hips, knees, and back. According to the Arthritis Foundation, over 46 million men, women, and children have doctor-diagnosed arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid, or juvenile).

Practical Pain Free Gardening Tips

  • Break up large tasks into several timed sessions.
  • Work at a steady pace; take intermittent rest periods during the course of the day to avoid over-fatigue and over-stress of joints.
  • Stretch upper and lower limbs before going to work.
  • Take frequent breaks, and use the strongest and largest joints and muscles available for each job.
  • Use proper body mechanics to lift objects so that the legs are being used to lift rather than the arms and back. Keep the weight of the object close in to the center of your body.
  • Use ergonomic equipment such as long-handled spades, bulb planters, and weeding forks to avoid back strain, extreme postures of the knees and hips, and extended reach of the shoulders.
  • Avoid loose-fitting, bulky gloves as they can actually increase the workload on your hands as they attempt to hold onto and maneuver tools/items.
  • Spring-loaded pruners, loppers or any tools that increase leverage while cutting will decrease the amount of force exerted through the hands and upper extremities.
  • When kneeling is preferred or necessary, individual strap-on knee pads or padded mats can reduce mechanical stress on the resting surface of your lower extremities.
  • Consider raised flower beds or flower boxes for easier access or utilize a wagon or stool for prolonged sitting.
  • Stack the most commonly used tools in a cart, wagon, or other gardener’s helper that does double duty as a seat for planting and weeding.
  • Consider low-maintenance plants such as daylilies, hydrangeas, hostas, boxwood or yew shrubs, and groundcover (i.e. English ivy) when planning new landscaping.

Image from:

Amanda L. Edsell OTR/L, CHT graduated from Spalding University in 2002 with a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy. In 2008, she became a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT). Amanda is certified to perform augmented soft tissue mobilization (ASTYM), Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCEs), and is trained in the application of kinesiotaping as well. She joined our KORT team in 2004.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *