Adaptive Gardening

In Arthritis Pain, Back Pain, Injury Prevention, Lifestyle, Occupational Therapy by Advance TherapyLeave a Comment

It’s SUMMER TIME!  Summer means trading  your snow shovel for a rake and hoe and getting down and dirty! Do you love tending to your garden or flower bed, but find that your hands hurt and your back aches?  Does playing in the dirt leave you hunched over and stiff for days? Adaptive gardening techniques can help you cultivate your plants, and not your pain! Here are some helpful tips to make summertime growing a little easier! 


  • Use tools with long or built up handles to decrease the strain of pinching or digging with your fingers. Check out tools like these:
  • Alternate left and right hand use to decrease repetitive strain on the wrists and hands
  • Take frequent breaks to give the small joints of the hands and wrists a rest
  • Use gloves to protect your hands


  • Flex from your hips, not your back!  When bending over, keep a slight bend in the knees.
  • In standing or kneeling, keep your back straight, your shoulders back,  and your neck in neutral to prevent neck and shoulder strain.
  • If on your  knees, kneel on one knee at a time to prevent rounding of your low spine.
  • Work with your thumbs pointing up to keep your wrists neutral and prevent elbows winging out.


  • Raised beds are a great option if getting up and down from the ground is difficult.
  • Using tools like a knee pad or low stool can help for low tasks.
  • Container gardening is a good option if maintaining a ground plot is too much to handle
  • Cooperative gardening is also a great option-share the tasks for one garden according to what is easy for each member. Share the bounty come harvest time!
  • Think creatively about what limits you-how can you do it differently?


  • Stretching and regular exercise are great ways to keep your joints and muscles limber and ready for work. Stretch before and after a gardening session. Check out this blog for more information: /
  • Work in the garden when your energy levels are highest during the day.

In conclusion: No fear, no need for the weeds to take over, and no need for  you to give up  your garden! Use these adaptive gardening techniques to help to protect your body and keep you mobile during the nice weather. If you DO have an persistent pain or ache, your friends at Advance Therapy are on standby to help you get back to living!

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