18 Jan 2018

For those who are keen to welcome the pending spring as days start to grow longer and brighter, the Daily Telegraph (9/1/18) sounds a cautionary note. “Don’t put your back into it” warns the headline, and the article quotes the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). A recent study has found that if digging is done in the wrong way it can double the load on joints, leaving Britain’s 27 million gardeners susceptible to chronic injury. James Shippen, an expert at biomechanics at Coventry University said: ” The worst thing is reaching too far with the shovel. if you have got to move soil, it is much better to take one step forward and offload the soil than to overreach”. Researchers used technology usually applied to the making of cartoons to map the movement of digging and measuring loads imposed on joints, bones and muscles.

Alan Nevies and associates at northlondonosteopaths have the following to say to the impressive 27 million gardening enthusiasts:

“When gardening it is very important to think about how you are lifting anything from the ground, whether It’s lifting a spade full of dirt or plucking little weeds from the soil.

Always try to keep the back straight and bend from the knees using legs for leverage and power to lift.

Another important thing to remember is to always lift things close to your body as lifting objects such as a spade full of dirt far from your body puts increased pressure on the inter vertebral discs of the lower back. This done over and over again when gardening can easily lead to degenerative changes to the disc and other spinal structures.

Take care when tipping the soil out of the spade as if it is far away from the body and a twisting motion is used to chuck the dirt off the spade this can lead to a disc herniation and ligament over strain.”

Suggested Gardener’s mantra courtesy of Alan Nevies and his colleagues at northlondonosteopaths:

Remember to bend your knees, straight back and keep it all close to your body!