Gardening is a great way to get physical activity and get you outdoors during quarantine. However, yard work can often take a toll on our hands and wrists. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 400,000 outdoor garden tool-related accidents are treated each year.
Two of the most common injuries from gardening are repetitive strain injuries and tendonitis. Repetitive strain injuries are typically caused by doing the same thing over and over for too long. Gardening activities could include weeding, soiling, digging, and planting. Tendonitis stems from a repetitive strain injury that affects the tendons that attach muscles to bones, which can cause pain in your hands and wrist and can prevent you from doing activities you enjoy. You should follow these precautions to avoid injuries, pain and discomfort:
Check your posture
“Posture” refers not only to your whole body position but also to the angle of your wrist while using hand tools. Avoid any awkward motions by using good body positioning. Work with wrists in a neutral position. Grip strength is at its maximum when the wrist is in a relaxed or neutral position. Studies have shown that people lose up to 25% of their grip strength when their wrist is bent. Use larger joints like shoulders and elbows to do the heaviest work.
Wear gloves when working outside
Gloves not only serve as a pad between your hand and the tool, but they can help prevent the tool from slipping in your hand, which means you don’t have to grip the tool as forcefully to maintain good control. Use suede or thick leather gloves when working with roses. Latex or rubber gloves are best when gripping tools or when working in the soil. Gloves also prevent sun damage and fingernail damage.
Avoid prolonged repetitive motions
Make sure you are taking breaks every 30 minutes and stretching. Vary your tasks to avoid doing the same thing for too long. When raking, trimming hedges, pulling weeds, or any other gardening job that requires repetitive motion, move from one job to another. Another tip: Wait to do extensive weeding until after a rain storm. The weeds will be easier to pull out, putting less strain on your hands and wrists
Use tools, not your hands
There is a tool for everything, so use it, which will reduce hand and thumb pain from repetitive pinching and pulling weeds. Look for well-designed tools with padded handles and spring loaded cutting tools that return to an opened position. Also keep cutting tools sharp and well oiled, so they work as they should and require less effort to use.
Use the right tool for the right job
Avoid accidents by using tools for their intended purposes. Large loppers use bigger muscle groups in your arms and require less work from your hands. Choose hands pruners only for small branches that are easy to cut through. Other important tool tips:
- When purchasing pruners, loppers or shears, look for brands featuring a safety lock.
- Avoid products with form-fitting handles. These tools only fit one size of hand perfectly. If your hand is too large or too small, it will put more stress on your hand.
- Always follow the manufacturers’ instructions for the tool.
- Keep sharp tools away from children at all times.
- Always unplug electrical tools and disconnect spark plug wires on gasoline-powered tools when not in use.
Schedule an appointment
Your well-being is important to us. Raleigh Orthopaedic is Wake County’s oldest and most experienced orthopedic practice, serving the Triangle and surrounding regions of central North Carolina since 1919. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our Raleigh Orthopaedic Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.