Trustee Colin Beevor shares his top gardening tips - Arthritis Action

Trustee Colin Beevor shares his top gardening tips

14 August 2023

Arthritis Action Trustee Colin Beevor, Rheumatology Matron at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, shares his top gardening tips for people living with arthritis.

Colin and his Rheumatology team at Portsmouth Hospital were integral in developing and hosting an arthritis-themed allotment garden at the Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, helping us to spread awareness of the importance of self-managing arthritis through activities such as gardening. Gardening can be a great activity to get fresh air and keep active, whether you have a large outdoor space or even just a few potted plants on a balcony.


Colin’s Top Gardening Tips


Plan ahead. Before you actually begin gardening, spend some extra time in advance to plan out what you want to do. How much do you want to achieve? can these be broken down over several days, or into smaller jobs? Knowing what you want can help will save you effort and time in the long run.

Start low and go slow. If you’re just starting off or increasing your activity, your body may need some time to adapt.  It’s important to start slow and try to gradually increase the amount of time you’re active. You don’t have to start doing everything at once.

Pace yourself. While it may be tempting to spend hours in the garden on a beautiful day, however this could leave you feeling stiff and sore the next day.  Try to keep track of how much time you spend gardening each day, and make sure you’re not overdoing on any particular day.

Take frequent stretch breaks. Staying in the same position for too long can lead to stiffness and pain. Schedule frequent breaks and time to stretch out your muscles. It’ll be worth it in the long run!

Lighten the load with assistive devices. Many gardening activities can put extra stress on your joints, such as kneeling for a long time, lifting heavy loads, or gripping garden tools. Speak to someone at your local garden centre or green-fingered friends to see if any assistive devices are available to help lighten the load.

Bring the garden to you. If working at low levels is difficult for your hips, knees, or back, consider raised planters, hanging baskets, or an elevated container garden. You may also find it easier working from a seated or standing position rather than having to bend down or kneel.

Change tasks. change tasks often so that different parts of your body are being used. Take a break from work that is hard on the legs and back with a task that requires your arms or hands more. If you’ve been kneeling for a while, try a task in a standing or seated position. Remember to keep your joints properly aligned with good posture to avoid injury or unnecessary stress.