One of the biggest pitfalls of gardening is your back. After all, things look great once they bloom but the process getting there can be painful. It’s a lot of bending and using your wrists. Your fingers see a lot of action as well and as you get older it can be hard to manipulate small tools or just even hold them in your hands.
The good news is there are many tools, adaptors and methods that will allow you to garden much more easily as the aging process takes over.
Ergonomic chairs have been popular in offices for a few years, since sitting on your bum for hours isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered for your spine. And now, ergonomics has moved into the gardening area as well.
An ergonomic tool is one that allows you to keep wrists and other body parts in a neutral position. It usually will weigh under three pounds and it works off your center of gravity. An ergonomic tool can boost your productivity. It will help keep the dirt in one spot and let you plant so things look a little more organized because you won't be as tense.
The physical benefits are key. Because of the design of the specific tool it creates more flexibility for you and allows you to work longer and smarter.
The purpose is to eliminate any discomfort you might have. It will also work to ease physical stress while you use it as the tools are usually lighter and structured for people that have trouble squeezing or working with their hands for long periods of time.
Easy to spot
Ergonomic tools are easily identifiable. They have rubber padding on the handle with a feel of a non-slip texture and a diameter greater than or equal to 1.5 inches. Long handed tools can be hard to hold even when you are equipped with normal body strength. To get the benefits of being ergonomic, the upper part of the shaft should bend so it’s more horizontal with a second hand grip along the shaft.
If it is uncomfortable to use don’t use it because you will be positioning your body to over-compensate and defeating the purpose.
There are now a number of tools available for gardeners with physical limitations from specialty garden product makers like Fiskars, Corona, Gripworks, disABILITY Work Tools, Life with Ease and others.
Jan McNeilan, consumer horticulture agent for the Oregon State University Extension Service suggests that gardeners who have bad backs should use long-handled tools and use plastic handle extenders to help improve leverage. Try to maintain a good neutral posture while you garden and push rather than pull so you don’t pull your back along with the weeds.