Is there a gardening activity that is good for joints?

infonose(10b)March 1, 2005

I just discovered this forum. I am chuckling over the unabashed lists of symptoms that are proudly included in people's posts - and realizing that it is time to stop brooding over my own increasingly long list. I enjoy the freedom folks feel to share their aches with non-judgmental listeners. I also admire the list members' bravery in dealing with multiple frustrations.

My question - the forum seems to focus on ways to persist in gardening even though it is hard on our bodies. Is there any gardening activity that actually is helpful exercise? Is there something that you do in the garden that leaves you feeling better in your joints than when you started? I can't think of one. Thanks!

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debbie_sw_ok(z7 OK)

Weeding usually makes my joints feel better, as long as I don't overdo it.
There is no lifting involved & I do it sitting down so there is no strain on my back or knees. The stretching motion helps keep my joints limbered up. The trick is to listen to my body when it tells me the reach is too much of a stretch and then I move closer to the target.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2005 at 1:12AM
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Greetings! I have found that most gardening activities are good for your joints, but here is my however list.
However 1. It is a good thing to do some stretching prior to any gardening activity. A sudden movement when the weather is cold or your muscles are not loosened up can keep you out of the garden for a week easy.
However 2. Know your limits. There may be some things that you should just not do anymore. I have multiple ruptured disks and auto immune disorders affecting the joints. So I must limit the amount of weight that I lift. If it is over my limit I find a friend to help. It is not worth another, or first time ruptured disk.
However 3. Do everything that you can in moderation. You may see that a large bed needs to be weeded, but it may not be good for you to maintain that possition or activity for that long a period of time. Do some weeding then switch to another project.
However 4. Take regular breaks. Rome was not built in a day and neither will your garden. Work for 15 to 30 minutes and then take a break and watch the birds or take notes on what you have done and what you would like to do in the future.
However 5. Reduce your territory. You will need to scale back on some of what you have done in the past. Try to decide what the most important garden projects that you have are and make them your priority. It doesn't mean that you have to let everything go. Let some of your garden areas become self sustaining by the use of shrubs and low maintenace perenials and ground covers that will be attractive and yet require less out of you.
However 6. Discover the joy of container gardening. Start small. If you are like most of us and you see your abilities decreasing; begin to make a move to container gardening as that may one day be the only real gardening activity that you will be able to do.
However 7. Find tools that make gardening easier on you and also find ways to move things without the use of your brute force. Pay the neighbor kid to put out your mulch. Better yet train your grandchildren to help you with those things and pass on to another generation the joy and practicallity of gardening.
Does anyone else have any other gardening howevers? Have a great week and a great garden! Jon. Plant_Manager. South Carolina.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 2:15AM
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lynne_melb(z9b Melb FL)

Walking through garden center to buy more plants (ha-ha).

What I call puttering:

- planting seed (in pots, or inside), where it is higher
- the same for cuttings
- watering/fertilizing with sprinkling can
- walking through the garden looking at my plants

A lot of garden activities may make me temporarily sore, but with moderation, I will feel better overall getting more exercise. Going for a walk or a swim may be "better" for me, and I do those, but I will spend far more time gardening because it's fun, and I feel better getting more exercise.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 11:13AM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

Hoeing and raking and sweeping, with tools that are the right height for me. Gentle and rhymical. Unhurried.

And, oddly enough, shifting a heap of grit with a long-handled shovel - for the same reasons.

However (!) if you haven't already got the knack of using your whole body for this task - don't try it. Many people haven't a clue how to use a shovel with comfort.

Actively work out ways to do tasks with least impact on at-risk body parts. Watch yourself working so you become aware of where you're over-working, tensing up - and find ways around it.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 6:03PM
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ljrmiller(z7 NV)

Okay, so this post is probably dead useless, but...the more my joints hurt, the more I feel driven to do heavy yard/garden work. I dig, I haul, I carry, I drag, I climb, I crawl, and about the only concession to pain I make is to wear knee pads. And yes, I moan, groan, say "OUCH" and carry on the whole time, muttering about how I must be crazy, stupid or both. Then, after I've made myself even sorer, I go for a walk to loosen up all the kinks, and that DOES help. Seems not only the kinks from the gardening work out as I walk, but I get rid of a little of the joint pain as well (at least for a day or two).

My conclusion: when it comes to gardening, it's ALL good, even if it hurts like hell!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 2:20PM
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Vetivert8 wrote: "...Many people haven't a clue how to use a shovel with comfort..." So - how do you do it, Vetivert?

Thanks, Merry

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 3:23PM
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Whenever I work in the yard and whatever I do, I do a few stretching exercises. There are some great tai chi moves that are perfect (no stake in the $ but David Carradine has a great tai chi video I use). Is great for joints. And, yogic breathing taught by Andrew Weil is excellent for keeping stamina and energy while I garden.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2005 at 2:35PM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

As long as one doesn't over do any one position too long and rotates jobs the reaching across beds stretch the joints and keeps range of motion from further limitation.

On my buttom I fill a small bucket with weeds by reaching in my 4 x 4 beds two feet (stretching my arms and lower back.) Follow that by pushing up off bucket to stand, walk down to compost pile, dump bucket and either take a bathroom break or return to weeding.

Picking berries by planting feet widely and rocking back and forth into briars and back out to bucket. That helps the hips and ankles retain movement. On days I can sit between rows I weed/pick from row on left then right and scoot myself backward with my

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 2:53PM
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maineman(z5a ME)

As the saying goes, "Use it or lose it." My gardening activity does cause a lot of sore muscles and sore joints, so I take aspirin, Aleve, and some of those "horse pills" that contain Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM. Mine also say on the bottle, "with Hyaluronic Acid". They're hard to swallow, but they do seem to help.

Our garden and the adjoining woods keep me active all year long. Today I have been dragging limbs to a pile near my shredder-chipper. I have been grinding up brush piles to make compost piles. I have four compost piles so far and plan to make another three before spring. The muscles and joints will be sore, but that's sort of the price I pay for remaining active.

And I enjoy the freedom of movement, even with a little pain. I remember my Mother used to say, "A little pain never hurt anyone." I'm not quite sure what she meant by that.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 4:03PM
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dangsr(N Fla)

well infonose it looks like a lot of gardeners are anxious to help. I have found that any gardener you ask will and I will agree with what they have said and I to wish you a lot of good gardening with less pain.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 2:40PM
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