Do you find gardening whilst enjoyable, is quite often literally a pain in the neck and back? Gardening is a relaxing and enjoyable form of exercise, but
it can pose health risks if you're not careful.
There's good news for gardeners who suffer from aches in the lower back, neck, shoulders and knees – better digging techniques should help reduce the pain.
Researchers from the RHS and Coventry University used Lords of The Rings- style 3D motion capture to pinpoint good and bad techniques. This biomechanical modelling found that bad digging posture doubles the load on some joints and puts many of Britain’s 27 million gardeners at risk. Analysis of the 3D film of volunteers digging found that minimal back bend combined with maximum knee bends and regular repetitive digging was the best technique. Bending forward a long way and stretching limbs to dig can double the load on joints and cause muscle problems, which can lead to chronic injuries. Researchers found bad techniques increased strain in the lower back by half as much again and doubled loads on the shoulders, increasing the risk of osteoarthritis. Raking, which also uses upper body muscles, required a similar technique to digging, while the same care is also needed in transplanting seedlings and weeding, even though they are lower intensity jobs.