Gardening often involves a lot of clipping and pruning using secateurs, and generally gripping handles such as spades. This can occasionally lead to pain in the top of the arm near the elbow. Sometimes referred to as ‘tennis elbow’ – let’s call it ‘gardeners’ elbow’! – it can be painful at night and makes even holding a cup of coffee difficult.
Here are a few tips that may help you manage this problem if you have it, or prevent it coming on:
* Wear gardening gloves and vary the width of the handles of your secateurs and other equipment you use. This helps to use slightly different muscles in different ways when you have a lot of pruning, clipping and digging to do.
* Improve your shoulder strength. When the muscles around the shoulders have lost strength, then the muscles around the elbows and wrist compensate. This leads to a greater chance of overuse of these muscles. A great way to strengthen your shoulders is push-ups. Have a look at last week’s post for ways to do push-ups safely. There is a stretch that can also help.
Try this stretch of the arm during and after your pruning, clipping and digging sessions:
* Extend your arm straight out in front of you with your elbow straight, your palm face down.
* Drop your extended hand towards the floor so the wrist bends.
* With your other hand, apply a gentle pressure to the back of your hand and push toward your body and hold.
* You should feel this stretch down your forearm.
Hope this helps your gardening experience!