Working in and Harvesting the Garden with Arthritis or other Physical Limitations

Andy Bauer – Educational Program Coordinator Ohio AgrAbility
Arthritis tends to affect most farmers and gardeners in their hands, knees, and hips because these joints take the most pressure. These same joints also are affected by people with other physical limitations such as limited mobility, knee pain, fatigue, and unable to get up if sitting on the ground. Simple tips will help in making the task at hand easier to do.
- Plan your day ahead -Do the more physical jobs first early in the day when it is cooler and you are not as tired.
- Don’t try to do all the jobs at one time, take regular breaks and allow your body time to rest and recover.
- If the day is hot, get into some shade to cool off. Change the tasks you are doing to reduce fatigue.
- Use a cart, wagon, or other means to take your bucket, tools and supplies to the garden at one time. Cut down on repeated trips.
- Ask for help in doing cumbersome tasks.
- Avoid stressful positions and change positions frequently.
- Use a garden stool or chair when possible to take the weight off your joints.
- Use knee or kneeling pads to reduce stress when working on your knees.
- Use foam pipe insulation to build up handles on buckets, baskets, or other items used to reduce stress on the hands.
Remember: Pain is the body’s way of telling you to slow down or stop for the day. Respect it. Have an enjoyable gardening experience.
For more information on Arthritis contact the Arthritis Foundation at for a booklet titled Arthritis and Agriculture: A Guide to Understanding and Living with Arthritis or the Ohio Agrability Program at or Andy Bauer at or (614) 247-7681.
Photo courtesy of Fairfield County OSU Extension.