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Gardening can help people stay active, provide plentiful food, and elevate mood gardenbut doing it incorrectly can lead to back pain, joint aches, and muscle strains.  Gardening can also be difficult for people with health conditions that limit movement (such as arthritis) or cause fatigue.  But with a few strategies, gardening can be a pleasurable and safe activity for all.

Each year, over 2 million people are injured during gardening or yard work activities, peaking in the spring and summer seasons.  Many of these injuries include low back pain and overuse injuries, which can be prevented or minimized.

Gardening is a year round “sport”!

The gardener must preserve in self care the year through, staying active in the dark winter months when we dreamily read seed catalogs, tending to our bodies so that when spring comes round again, we can prevent injury by cultivating our:

  • Flexibility for bending to harvest and reaching a trellis;
  • Strength for carrying buckets of compost and hoeing;
  • Endurance so you can spend entire days outside; and
  • Balance to prevent falls in precarious situations.

If exercising on its own does not call you, remember the higher vision:  garden 2

Find motivation in picturing yourself at peace in your garden.

Protecting Your Bones:  Gardening with Osteoporosis or Osteopenia (Excerpted from a newsletter of the Canadian Osteoporosis Patient Network (April 2014) & the International Osteoporosis Foundation)

Those of us with osteoporosis/-penia may worry that pain and fractures, or the fear of pain and fractures, will mean giving up our gardens.  Gardening involves walking, squatting, kneeling, digging, pulling and lifting, and all done in the fresh air.  As you hoe, plant, water and harvest, your body engages in effective weight-bearing and resistance activities that contribute to good bone health – as long as you start slowly and move safely.  For safe movement during gardening, follow guidelines and:

  • Do not participate in exercises or movement that flex or rotate the spine.
  • If you feel any new pain while gardening, stop immediately and consult with your health care provider.
  • You may need to rethink your garden to make it easier to maintain. Decide which tasks are difficult or painful. You may decide to remove or change aspects of your garden to make it safer and easier to maintain.
  • Break loads into smaller portions, carrying 2 light buckets instead of one.
  • If you need to reach down for something, try bending from the hips and keep your back straight.
  • Make sure you take regular breaks so as not to become tired and thereby increase the risk of injury.
  • Don’t hesitate to get help for specific tasks if required. Leave to others the tasks which may involve heavier lifting, or are too physically challenging. You might be surprised at how many neighbors or friends would be happy to help if asked!
  • Go slowly and don’t get frustrated – it doesn’t matter if you can’t do everything at once.

For more information, visit a Physical Therapist specializing in Bone Health.

Source:  Ohio State University Extension, 2017 Ohio Master Gardener Volunteer Conference, Growing Strong:  Self-Care & Fitness for the Gardener, Laura Ann Bergman, Physical Therapist Assistant, Ohio Health, laura.bergman@ohiohealth.com

Source:  Growing Strong:  Self Care and Fitness for the Gardener, OhioHealth Inc. 2013.  Special thanks to:  The Ohio Health Foundation for Grady Memorial Hospital for supporting the creation of this workshop and publication.

Books:
Gardener’s Fitness – Weeding out the Aches and Pains, Barbara Pearlman.
Gardener’s Yoga – 40 Yoga Poses to Help Your Garden Flow, Veronica D’Orazio.

Tools:
www.amleo.com
www.greenherontools.com

References:  The American Occupational Therapy Association at www.aota.org ; The American Physical Therapy Association at www.apta.org ; University of Virginia Cooperative Extension, Gardening and Your Health series at https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/426/426-065/426-065_pdf.pdf ; AgrAbility at https://agrability.osu.edu/  ; and Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety at www.ccohs.ca

Adapted by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Program Assistant, Horticulture, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

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With a range of medications available to help the 50 million Americans suffering from arthritis many may not know that what you eat can influence your symptoms and alsoartritis hands how the disease progresses.

Rather than supplements in the form of pills, food with certain nutrients can help.

·         Vitamin C about the amount in two oranges (152 milligrams a day) has been found to reduce the progression of osteoarthritis.  Vitamin C plays a role in the formation of cartilage, collagen and proteoglycans.  It also is an antioxidant which helps limit the free-radical oxygen compounds that can damage cartilage.

·         Vitamin D was shown to cut the progression of arthritis.  Living in the northern attitudes especially in the winter, makes it difficult to get enough Vitamin D.  This is the one vitamin that you may need to  supplement.  Vitamin D not only plays a role in bone building it seems to affect the production of collagen.

·         Beta-carotene reduced the progression of arthritis when 9,000 IU were consumed daily.  This was not seen when people consumed 5,000 IU.  Most Americans only get 3,000 to 5,000 IU a day of beta-carotene.  However, you can easily increase your amount by using orange vegetables and fruits.  One medium sweet potato contains 21,909 IU.  fruits-vegetables

·         Vitamin E – In a study with people who had knee osteoarthritis those that consumed 6-11 milligrams of Vitamin E daily (from food) saw a 60% reduction in the progression of the disease over 10 years compared to  those getting 2-5 milligrams daily.  Due to the increased risk of lung cancer, smokers should not take extra Vitamin E or beta-carotene pills.

·         Vitamin K is being studied now.  So far, the study suggests that Vitamin K may slow the progression of osteoarthritis.  Good sources of Vitamin K are spinach, broccoli, leaf lettuce, kale, asparagus and olive, soybean and canola oils.

·         Omega-3 Fatty Acids suppress inflammation in the joint.  This is what causes so much stiffness and pain.  Eating two or more servings of fish (baked or broiled) per week reduced the chance of developing arthritis.   Other sources of omega-3 are flaxseed and nuts.  Canola, soybean and olive oil have some omega-3s.   Best to avoid omega-6 fatty acids found in safflower, sunflower, cottonseed and corn oils.  These are usually also in processed foods and fried foods, so limit your consumption of them.

·         Limit consumption of sugar.   More inflammation has been linked with higher sugar consumption.

· Drink more water         Drink Water.  Water  helps all around from moisturizing, giving support to joints, carrying nutrients and removing wastes from the body.  Some medicines used for arthritis also change your thirst level.  Be sure to drink plenty of water, preferably 8 cups or more a day of liquids.

Eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and protein along with oils rich in omega-3s.  Limit sweets and other fats and oils.  Eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains will increase your fiber intake which the Arthritis Foundation says may keep inflammation down.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami Valley EERA

Reviewer:  Elizabeth Smith, R.D., L.D. Northeast Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

References:

Tufts University, [2013]. Eating Right for Healthy Joints, Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter Special Supplement, June 2013.

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 Did you know that arthritis and chronic joint symptoms are the leading cause of disability among Americans age 15 and over? Seventy million Americans (one in every three adults) are estimated to have some type of joint pain. Arthritis interferes with the everyday activities of over seven million Americans, making it difficult for them to walk, dress, or bathe themselves.

How can you cope?

  • Lose weight, if recommended
  • Exercise daily with gentle stretching and relaxation. Strengthening (resistance) and cardiovascular (aerobic) exercises are helpful for most people. Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
  • Pace yourself, rest, and understand your limitations.
  • Be aware of how a joint moves, and carefully monitor any twisting motions.
  • Don’t remain in the same position for long periods of time.
  • If lifting or pushing, distribute the weight to as many joints as possible. For example, use both arms to lift a package.
  • Use warm and cold treatments such as ice packs or heating pads as recommended.
  • Try a muscle ointment to alleviate morning stiffness.
  • Utilize your library, hospital, and outreach programs for current information regarding arthritis and treatments.
  • Be realistic and optimistic.
  • Learn effective ways to manage pain by recording activities that cause excessive discomfort.

Living with arthritis can be frustrating and difficult.  If you are willing to work at it, taking control is with in your reach.

Author:  Linnette Goard, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

For more information visit:  http://ohioline.osu.edu/ss-fact/pdf/0147.pdf

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