When it comes to summer, as a nation we love to spend our time outdoors, particularly in our gardens. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, 85% of us spend our summers gardening, and growing plants and flowers is very important to over half of UK adults.
Gardening is also a great way to keep active and is thought to boost wellbeing. However, this summer some may struggle to get the most out of their beloved outdoor spaces, as the repetitive actions involved in gardening can put strain on the joints and prove particularly troublesome for joint pain sufferers. Osteoarthritis (OA) affects millions of people in the UK, with one third of the population aged over 45 having sought treatment for the condition. The prevalence of OA is also thought to be on the rise, and Arthritis Research UK estimate that by 2035, 8.3 million people in the UK could have OA of the knee- one of the most commonly affected joints.
With garden centres now reopening and summer on the way now is as good a time as ever to get out and reap the rewards of our outdoor spaces. We have top tips for those struggling with joint pain to help them enjoy the nation’s favourite pastime and help ease the aches:
Stretch it out
Stretching and warming up before gardening could help increase your flexibility and allow you to work for a longer period of time, whilst stretching afterwards should help prevent stiffening of the joints later on.
Use the right tools
To avoid over reaching and heavy lifting, long handled tools or light weight apparatus may prove for an easier time gardening. Keeping your gardening tools in good condition could also help avoid unnecessary strain.
Take the right things
Research has found that joint health supplements can help reduce joint pain and stiffness and improve joint mobility.
Consultant rheumatologist Dr Rod Hughes advises: "Now the side effects of paracetamol are well documented it is imperative that we look at safer, long-term alternatives for those living with joint pain.
"One such option could be the galactolipid GOPO®, which has been shown in randomized, placebo controlled clinical trials to significantly reduce arthritis joint pain."
In this video, actor and radio presenter Larry Lamb talks about his experiences of taking GOPO® for his own joint health:
Switch manual for electric
Swapping certain manual tools for electric ones could make all the difference, as repeating strenuous motions can cause aggravation to the joints. For example, using a hedge trimmer in place of manual garden shears lessens the harsh movements on the joints in your elbows and shoulders.
Make the space work for you
Using apparatus such as a gardening bench or potting table helps ease any strain when it comes to crouching or stooping. This also allows you to work at a comfortable level. If you intend to kneel, use knee pads, which are provided with some benches. This makes it easier to move from a sitting position to a kneeling one.
Choose low maintenance options
Choose plants such as evergreens, shrubs and perennials that require less maintenance to reduce the time and effort required to care for your garden. Consider weed-inhibiting ground covers to reduce the time you spend weeding
and artificial grass so that you no longer need to mow the lawn. You could also install an automatic watering system to avoid needing to manually water the plants.
Don’t over do it
Take regular breaks to reduce tension on your joints and give them time to rest. Ensure that you drink plenty of fluids which is particularly important when gardening in warmer weather. Finally, be sure to enjoy the fruits of your labour and use your garden as a place to relax and enjoy!
GOPO® is derived from the seeds and husks of rosehip, GOPO® Joint Health is available from Boots, supermarkets and independent chemists nationwide £19.00 for 120 capsules and £27.00 for 200 capsules www.gopo.co.uk
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