- Avoid positions that foster injury.
Tight grip and pinch put a strain on small joints of the hand. Add cushioned grips or grip tape to tool handles or purchase tools with ergonomic grip designs. Cushioned grips allow you to get a good grip on the tool while lessening the strain on fingers.
- Use proper body mechanics.
Avoid staying in one position for too long. Avoid activities and require gripping for long periods of time. Keep wrists in neutral (straight, not bent up or down).
- Vary your gardening tasks.
Repetitive movements often cause skin, tendon, nerve irritation or joint inflammation. Rotate tasks every 15 minutes.
- Use large muscle groups whenever possible.
Use palms of hands rather than fingers and when lifting something heavy use elbows and forearms, not just your hands.
- Organize to decrease work effort.
Plan ahead and keep all equipment together in one area. Use a wheelbarrow or cart to transport tools and supplies.
- Protect your hands with gloves.
When exposed to soil, even a small cut runs the risk of developing a major hand infection. It’s important to wear gloves to protect skin from scrapes, cuts, cold temperatures and also to cushion joints. Bionic Gardening Gloves earned an Ease-of-Use Commendation from the Arthritis Foundation. bionicgloves.com
- Respect pain, recognize fatigue.
Do not push through the pain. Pain is your warning to stop. Plan rest breaks before you become sore or tired. Recommend 10-minute rest breaks every hour.
- Consider medical treatment.
Talk to your physician to see if a referral to hand therapy is appropriate. Custom splints can be made to rest painful joints and can often be made to fit under a gardening glove.