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Protect Your Hands in the Garden!

Digging, mulching, weeding, planting, raking, watering, pruning... a gardener's work is never done. But before you head outside with your spade and trowel, take a few minutes to think about the one tool you can't work in the garden without: your hands.

"While protection and safety is important in everyday life, proper hand care is particularly important in the garden." says Brent Bamberger, DO, hand surgeon at the Hand Center. Protecting your hands in the garden is essential, and the first and most important step is to find a few good pairs of gloves. Gardening gloves can protect your hands from all kinds of injuries, including blisters, cuts, puncture wounds, fingernail damage, and sunburn. They are a necessity, not a luxury, when it comes to working in the garden.

The type of gloves you should wear depends on the task at hand.

  • Cotton gloves are best for light garden work, such as trimming, picking flowers, and cutting light branches.
  • Rubber gloves are best suited for "wet work" and when using garden chemicals.
  • Gloves coated with nitrile are flexible and stronger than basic rubber gloves, and are excellent when handling garden tools.
  • Leather gloves are ideal when moving thorny plants, coming into contact with poisonous plants such as poison ivy, and digging in soil that could contain snakes or other critters that bite.

Home improvement stores offer many varieties of gloves-as well as all kinds of gardening tools and gadgets. Be sure to choose for safety first!

  • Avoid garden tools that have finger grips molded into the handle. Blisters, calluses, and muscle pain can occur if the finger grips on the handle are too small or too large for your hand.
  • When purchasing pruners, loppers, or shears, look for brands featuring a safety lock and other safety features.
  • Try before you buy - while still in the store, practice using the tool. If it's too heavy, too big, or too small, leave it on the shelf!

Using tools correctly can help you avoid hand injuries caused by repetitive motion Always keep your hand and wrist in a straight line when you use hand tools. Bending the wrist weakens your grip on the tool, which causes you to exert hand and arm muscles with greater force. This can cause fatigue and soft tissue injury.

American Society for Surgery of the Hand, IMPACT Health and Safety Committee