Gardening is a great way to stay physically active, while also developing and maintaining a new hobby for the warmer spring and summer seasons. But, pain, inflammation or fatigue associated with arthritis can sometimes make it difficult.
Ways to prevent strain and stress on your joints;
- Taking regular breaks on jobs in the yard.
- Wearing protective clothing like gloves and wrist splints.
- Using lightweight tools. You can find a range of assistive devices to help with gardening at your a local Independent Living Centre https://ilcaustralia.org.au/ or you can see an Occupational Therapist who can advise on products and other ways to protect your joints https://www.otaus.com.au/.
- Using a garden stool or chair.
- Building a low maintenance garden.
There are several tips that can assist in making cooking a more joyful experience.
- Consider buying high-quality tools and assistive devices that promote joint stability.
- Reorganising the kitchen and placing all essential and regularly-used items in easy-to-reach shelves and cabinets to avoid the amount of times you need to bend over.
- Purchase pre-cut or frozen vegetables to avoid chopping often, as well as buying pre-packaged meals for your off days or occasions were you don’t want to put any additional strain on your joints. You can also try meal prepping for the whole week and freezing portions to save for a later date.
Arts, Craft and Knitting
Repetitive actions involved in knitting and art activities can not only reduce joint pain and stiffness but also increase flexibility of joints and improve muscle strength.
Participating in art and craft activities is also a great way to ease stress and arthritis pain, and slow down the progress of degenerative arthritis conditions.
- Make sure to stretch your hands beforehand to avoid cramps and pain and engage in knitting in short intervals to reduce joint pain and tiredness.
- Use light-weight needles such as plastic, casein or bamboo needles, as they are easier on the hands compared to metal needles.
- Stick to wool as it is more flexible and elastic which also make it easier to work with.
Sculpting and Pottery
- Use softer clay as it will be easier to work with and cause less joint pain. Try to also keep your wrists in a natural position.
Colour, paint, sketch or make a collage
- Art activities like sketching and colouring not only have the physical benefits of keeping your joints moving, they also promote mindfulness and reduce depression and anxiety. Make sure to take breaks and use wrist rests where needed and consider buying stationary and brushes that provides additional grip and support.
Exercise is also very important when dealing with arthritis-related joint pain and muscle stiffness. Exercise can help:
- Reduce pain
- Improve range of motion
- Increase muscle strength
- Assist in weight management
- Improve balance and physical functioning
- Improve wellbeing
There are many ways to remain active by incorporating simple exercises into into your daily routine. These can include:
Water based activities are great as they reduce inflammation and stress on your joints.
Walking and Cycling
These activities help strengthen muscles in the lower body, while also improving your cardiovascular health. For example, cycling can help keep your lungs and heart healthy, without the added stress on knee joints.
Strength or resistance training improves both the endurance and strength of muscles. This helps reduce joint pain which is also beneficial for preventing falls and fractures.
It is also a good idea to make your exercise routines social. For example, gather a group of friends, work colleagues or family to ease your way into the exercises. Keeping physically active whilst socialising not only increases your motivation to exercise, it can benefit your emotional and mental health and wellbeing too.
As always, before starting any new exercise activities, it is important to speak with your GP or appropriate health professional to ensure the exercises are safe and suitable.
- Versus Arthritis: Gardening to protect your joints https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/living-with-arthritis/gardening/
- Arthritis Foundation: 8 Arthritis-Friendly Activities to Shake Off Winter and Welcome Spring http://blog.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/8-arthritis-friendly-activities/
- Arthritis Foundation: Smart Tricks to Make Needlework with Arthritis Finger-Friendly http://blog.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/needlework-with-arthritis/
- Arthritis Foundation: Art therapy to ease stress http://blog.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/art-therapy-relieves-stress-inflammation/
- Creaky Joints Australia: Practical Tips for Cooking with Arthritis – Making Kitchen Tasks Easier https://creakyjoints.org.au/living-with-arthritis/cooking-with-arthritis/