I know this post may seem very strange given the recent bout of winter storms. I’m posting it now because, (1) it’s a reminder that spring is coming, and (2) you can think/organize/plan gardening things now, in time for the season. If you’re a gardener, that is.

I come from a gardening background. My mother is a Master Gardener, and our garden is a lush bonanza of color and foliage during the growing months. I’m not nearly as involved as she is. I enjoy getting outside, and there’s something about getting your hands into the earth that I find healing and grounding.

Since I began dealing with chronic pain, gardening has been more of a challenge. I have to be hyper-aware of whether or not I’m reaching too far, kneeling too long, or overexerting unused muscles. I say “hyper-aware” because these are things all people contend with. I’ve known athletes who overdid it planting a tree.

Fortunately, there are a lot of tools and methods out there to make gardening more accessible for anyone with physical limitations.

The PBS website has a short article on several types of tools that are enabling gardening tools. These include fist trowels, ratchet pruners, multi-purpose benches, and pulley-system hanging baskets. (I’d never heard of the last one before.)

There are some other tools that I’d recommend. In my opinion, anyone using a wheelbarrow should use an ergonomic wheelbarrow. Extra cost is definitely offset by ease of use, maneuverability, and lack of doctors’ visits. There are a bunch out there. I don’t know where ours was purchased, as it was some online place  several years ago. (I’d imagine something like this model from Home Depot would do the trick.)

I also find that finding the right gardening gloves has been a challenge for me. My hands tend to be slightly swollen and sometimes tender. Anything that’s too tight or chafes is definitely out. There’s a garden store near my house where I go and try on all the gloves to find the one that’s most comfortable for me.

I used to scoff at ergonomic this and that, but having the right tools really does make a huge difference. Having the right tools applies to more than just gardening, of course. There are tools to make computers more accessible, to help people walk, to help people shower….There are lots out there. If you know of any more good ones – gardening or otherwise – feel free to post them in a comment!

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