Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gardening Doesn't Have to Stop with Arthritis Diagnosis

With the sun out in Baltimore, many gardeners are ready to start planting their own fruits, vegetables, berries and herbs. While joint pain can make gardening more difficult, it is a wonderful activity for maintaining joint flexibility, bone density and range of motion. Experts agree that physical activity decreases pain, improves function and delays disability. The Arthritis Foundation offers the following tips for gardeners who are ready to hit their yards:

1) Ask for help. Know your limits.

2) Gentle stretches loosen joints and help prevent injury. Practice correct posture. Instead of using your fingers to lift an object, try using the flat palm of your hand, your forearms or even your elbows. Keep items close to your body as you carry them.

3) Try container gardening if you have difficulty bending or kneeling. Tomatoes, peppers, herbs and many flowers lend themselves to container gardening. For a vertical garden, use a trellis for vines, such as sweet peas. Raised beds should be built narrow enough to reach comfortably across.

4) Use joint-friendly tools and gadgets to help your plant, water, weed and prune. Look for tools that allow you to use your whole arm, not just your fingers and wrist. Try sitting on a caddy or a scooter wagon while weeding to give your joints a break.

For more tips on gardening and arthritis, visit www.letsmovetogether.org. To learn more about the latest in arthritis treatment at LifeBridge Health, visit the Center for Joint Preservation and Replacement at the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore.

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