Circle of Hands

Gardening Health and Ergonomic Tips

Gardening Ergonomics: Tools

● Choose the proper tool for the task at hand.
● Look for ergonomic tools. Just because the tool says it is “ergonomic” does NOT mean it is ergonomic for you! It must fit YOUR body.
● Try out tools before you buy because handle size, weight, and length of spindle are all key when it comes to using a tool.
● Telescopic and pistol-grip handles require less energy and keep the body in proper alignment.
● Handle diameter is important. For some people, a fatter handle feels more comfortable at the wrist. However, a fatter handle will fatigue your grip more quickly.
● Look for a depression in the handle for your thumb. This keeps your hand in proper alignment.
● Shorter tool handles provide greater leverage control (best for small hand tools).
● Use long-handled tools to reduce strain on your back, knees and hips instead of reaching.
● If tools have wooden or metal handles, consider adding padded tape or pipe insulation foam. You can also modify the grip on your favorite tools. To determine the size of your grip, make a circle with your thumb and index finger. A bicycle grip, baseball tape, foam, and electrical tape all can be used to pad the handle.
● Keep blades sharp and oiled. Dull blades require more force to get the same job done.
● Load tools, supplies, rocks and other heavy items onto a wagon or wheelbarrow.

Gardening Ergonomics: General Tips

● Gardening is a source of pleasure and exercise but don’t overdo a session. Plan for breaks and switch tasks often. Move from an intensive task to a light activity after 30 minutes. If you experience pain, stop working.
● Rotate activities. Muscles will typically fatigue in less than a half hour of repetitive activity; therefore, rotate each gardening activity with ones that require different muscle groups and different body positions. Spread the gardening tasks over a number of days versus performing all of them the same day.
● Let your daily physical activity level serve as your guide for how long you can garden. For example, if you are physically active one hour a day, you should be able to garden an hour a day. Even if you do not feel fatigued, take a break for a few minutes each hour.

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