Do you fancy yourself green-fingered? Gardening is a fantastic hobby and one that many of us enjoy immensely. Living with chronic pain can make the things we love doing, such as working in the garden, particularly hard. However, an arthritis diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean you need to give it up. Adapting is the key.
Can gardening help with chronic pain management?
There are numerous health benefits to gardening that can help you manage your condition. Overall, it is an incredibly positive activity. Gardening can be good for both our mental and physical health, as well as providing a much-needed confidence boost.
Gardening counts as a gentle, low-impact form of exercise – a therapy that is often recommended by doctors to relieve arthritis symptoms. Nevertheless, it can be rigorous. On a beautiful sunny day, it may be tempting to spend hours on end in the garden, but this could lead to a flare-up, so be sensible and set yourself realistic, achievable goals.
Unsurprisingly, many people find that gardening reduces stress and anxiety. Gardens are abounding with beautiful plants and wildlife, which has a calming effect on our mood. Just thinking about the sweet, fragrant scent of flowers, the gentle murmur of a trickling water feature and the birds chirping happily is relaxing. Studies have found that immersing yourself in the natural world may also help to relieve chronic pain.
Being out in the garden when the sun is shining is also an excellent way to increase your vitamin D levels. You’re probably thinking: ‘how will vitamin D help my chronic pain?’. Well, aside from being an essential source of nutrients, this “sunshine vitamin” promotes musculoskeletal health and, according to studies, can alleviate chronic muscle, bone and joint aches and pains. That’s why we include it as a key ingredient in our discreet, fast-acting joint and migraine patches.
Gardening is highly rewarding – you’ll put in the work and see amazing results. Not only will nurturing your garden result in a stunning environment to enjoy, but if you’re growing fruit and veg, you can create delicious meals using your home-harvested ingredients. You may even decide to revel in your efforts by inviting friends and family over for dinner parties! It can be a real social occasion!
Tips to make gardening easier and more enjoyable
So, we know that gardening can help manage the physical and phycological symptoms of arthritis. But how can you relieve the pain you experience during, and after, gardening? Here are some tips…
1. Stay elevated
When you’re gardening with arthritis, you should avoid repetitive bending and stretching. Elevating your workspace is the best way to ensure easy planting, weeding and harvesting. Raised garden beds and potting benches are a good option. You can also place plants on tables when working on them and use hanging plants and window boxes to reduce strain.
2. Take breaks and change position regularly
Because gardening can be so enjoyable and fulfilling, it can be easy to get carried away. It’s important to take a break and rest, as well as frequently change your position. Try alternating between sitting, standing and kneeling. Most importantly, listen to your body.
3. Kneel on something soft
There are various gardening positions – you can stand up, sit on a stool, kneel, crouch and bend over. If you have a condition like arthritis, some positions are better than others. If you’re kneeling, you need to protect your knees and joints. One great way of doing this is by using a soft cushion or a special garden kneeler. There are lots of different options to choose from, including kneeling mats and pads, and free-standing and strap-on products.
4. Utilise arthritis gardening aids
With the right arthritis-friendly tools, gardening activities can be much more comfortable and accessible. We’ve provided a list of some of our favourites below!
Best gardening tools for arthritis
1. Grace & Able Compression Gloves
These lightweight, breathable compression gloves from Grace & Able relieve swelling and support sore joints. They feature an open-finger design so you can carry out gardening tasks easily.
Part of the Arthr product range, the KikkaDigga is a portable gardening assistant designed to help you garden quickly and safely. When attached to a standard garden fork or spade, the user can dig and turn out soil whilst remaining upright, avoiding excessive bending and back strain.
3. Peta Easi-Grip Fork
The Peta Easi-Grip Fork is among the best gardening tools for arthritic hands. This ergonomic product comes with an angled handle that keeps the hand and wrist in a natural stress-free angle to help eliminate strains and pressure. Like the KikkaDigga, is it part of Arthr’s hand-picked selection of products, so you can rest assured that it has passed stringent testing.
4. To Better Days active patches
As we mentioned earlier, being out in the sunshine in the garden is a great source of vitamin D. Our unique patches, available for big and small joints, contain a patented combination of vitamin D and dextrose to provide arthritis pain relief. They’re completely natural and have been proven to work in as little as 30 minutes.
5. Deep Seat Garden Kneeler from Gardener’s Supply
Recommended by the Arthritis Foundation, this extra-thick, super soft garden kneeler is designed for ultimate comfort and stability. It easily flips from kneeler to padded bench and features sturdy sides that lock in place so you can raise and lower yourself with confidence.
Living with chronic pain means you’ll have good days and bad days. Just remember that there is always light at the end of the tunnel and many resources and aids to explore to support you on your journey.
Gardening and arthritis can go hand in hand with the right support. Has gardening helped you? Have you tried any of the gardening aids we’ve listed or do you have some of your own to suggest? You can share your thoughts and advice, and ask questions, via our Facebook community group, Together For Better Days.