I just wrote a column about ways to make gardening more comfortable for you, especially if you have physical limitations. If you are like me and do a lot of gardening, it's important to stretch beforehand, not carry too much and avoid doing repetitive motions that will strain muscles.
In the column, I mention how useful kneeler/benches are. When the handles are pointing up, they're used as a kneeler and if you flip it around so the handles point down, they become a bench. While I don't use the bench feature on mine nearly as much as I do the kneeler function, it does come in handy for tasks that take a while. For me, that includes chores like deadheading prolific bloomers like Shasta daisies or picking blueberries.
For me, the most important features of these kneelers are the handles that you use to slowly lower yourself down onto the kneeler or push yourself back up. I don't know about you, but it's the constant getting up and down that wears me out during a day of gardening, and really makes my hips ache and thighs sore.
However, I've recently learned about a new type of kneeler and wanted to share this information with you. Gardener's Supply sells the "GardenEase" kneeler (top photo) and it has two features that gardeners should find really helpful:
1) The kneeler pad is contoured for the shape of our knees, and is quite soft, so if you have cranky knees, this just might be the ticket for you! I've noticed that almost all kneelers have flat -- and usually hard -- surfaces which can really make one's knees sore after a while. The GardenEase kneeler pad is WAY nicer! As a matter of fact, I just cleaned up my strawberry bed while using the kneeler and let me tell you, my knees were in heaven! And I don't even have knee problems but they sure appreciated it. (I see that you can also just purchase the kneeler pad rather than the whole kneeler, by the way.)
2) You've probably noticed the circular handles by now, right? Well, those are ergonomically-designed to make it easier on your wrists because you can keep your wrists straight while getting up or lowering yourself down. With regular kneelers, you have to bend your wrists backwards to grasp the handles and push up. I don't have cranky wrists, but can only imagine how much that must hurt those who do! In the photo to the right, you can see the position I put my wrists in for getting up and down. Very nice! However, I should also mention that the circular handles allow you to put your wrists in whatever position is most comfortable for you. That's a nice feature.
I see from the literature on the GardenEase kneeler that because it rests on the ground (rather than being elevated a few inches like most kneelers), it reduces the chance of straining your back. As one who suffers from a bad back, I'm all over that! It will support up to 350 lbs., too.
I will be testing a GardenEase kneeler this season and am looking forward to being much more comfortable while pursuing my favorite pastime! You can find more information on it here.