Joint study looks at effects of gardening tools

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The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and Coventry University have launched a joint study to look at the effects gardening tools, combined with different gardening tasks, have on the physical health of gardeners.

The research is the first of its kind in the UK and aims to identify the best gardening tasks for maintaining healthy bones, muscles and joints as well as assessing the performance of a range of gardening tools to see if they can be redesigned to reduce the risk of injury.

tony-digging2Coventry University’s team are well versed in this type of research having previously conducted similar assessments on the England cricket team’s bowling technique and an analysis of the Riverdance company’s choreography, with a view to reducing injury rates.

Professional and amateur gardeners, of all ages, visited the University’s state of the art motion capture lab where experts from the School of Art and Design monitored them performing activities such as digging and pruning.

Dr Paul Alexander, head of Horticultural and Environmental Science at the RHS commented: “The health benefits of gardening are difficult to quantify but by using the motion capture laboratory at Coventry University we hope to be able to better understand the effects different gardening tasks and tools have on the human body.”

He went on to explain that by involving people of both sexes, different age groups and skill levels, in a variety of gardening tasks, it is hoped that the knowledge gained from the research will give a better understanding on what is beneficial for gardeners’ health and what might be of harm.

The results of this research will be vital to all gardeners, no matter what their age or ability. Dr James Shippen, an expert in biomechanics at Coventry University’s School of Art and Design, comments: “Our motion capture lab has seen action of all sorts in recent years, from sports-related activities to dance studies, so it’s enormously exciting to be extending those activities still further to work with the Royal Horticultural Society on this unique piece of research.”

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