Gardening can be therapy for worried minds. Being outdoors doing a variety of garden activities gives a psychological boost and makes people feel good.
But all that digging and weeding can be hard on knees, hands, wrists, and shoulders. Digging with a garden trowel can cause ulnar deviation that leads to muscle strain and nerve pain in the wrist. Even tools that are called ergonomic don’t help much, according to the Department of Occupational Therapy at the Medical University of Ohio. Through their studies, they have come up with this advice.
* Buy tools with thick handles. Single-handle tools like trowels should have handles that are 1 1/4 to 2 inches in diameter.
* Long handles are better. You can get a firmer grip on the tool if there is plenty of room for all your fingers.
* Look for sturdy but lightweight tools. A flimsy tool makes for more work. Whatever the tool, the less it weighs, the easier it is on your body.
* Avoid transferring the stress. Trowels that have a frame around the hand keep the wrist straight. But keeping the wrist straight can cause awkward motions for the elbow and shoulder.
Joyce Thomas, chair of the Medical University, says gardeners should also avoid getting into the “zone,” where they lose track of time. Quoted in the Harvard Health Letter, she says repetitive motions and staying in one position can cause muscle problems and aggravate arthritis. So stop, stretch, sit in a lawn chair, and have a drink of water.