Nav: Home

Cutting edge technology reveals how to dig

January 22, 2018

A study out of England's Coventry University, in collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society, has focused on the seriousness and complexity of common injuries related to gardening, landscaping, and other labor-intensive agricultural tasks in hopes of determining preferred techniques for accomplishing the jobs while promoting safer behavior.

Toward this end, James Shippen, Paul Alexander, and Barbara May showcased some very modern methods in their article "A Novel Biomechanical Analysis of Horticultural Digging" published in the current issue of HortTechnology.

The RHS and Coventry University employed equipment usually used in the production of animated Hollywood films to very accurately measure the movement of gardeners undertaking routine tasks; for example digging and shoveling, from which they calculated the loads and torques occurring within the bones, joints and muscles.

The analysis of an array of these tasks was the yield of a cooperative effort of a team comprised of horticulturists who provided a list of activities that have generated personal injuries and physiotherapists who examined the degree to which these activities are inherently harmful to a normal and healthy human body. It was found that bad posture could increase loads by 50 percent in the lower back--and double on the shoulders--leaving people susceptible to chronic injuries.

The 3D optical tracking equipment involved attaching reflective "ping pong-sized" balls at key anatomical locations on the gardeners and then surrounding them with high-resolution, high-speed infra-red cameras. The equipment and methodology, known as motion capture, allows the movement of the body to be captured digitally, enabling the data to then be analyzed by a computer program developed at Coventry University that contains a model of the human skeleton, major joints and more than 600 muscles associated with movement.

The researchers found that stress in the lumbar region of the back, where many gardeners complain of aches and pains, could be increased by 50% due to bad posture. The shoulders were even more sensitive, suffering double the load effect if bad posture was used. High stress loads on the joints are associated with increased risk of osteoarthritis, the most common form of joint disease.

It was also found that good gardening practice involves using a regular, repetitive technique rather than erratic movements. A good technique was found to have minimal back bend and large knee bend whereas a bad posture was characterized by large forward bending, stretching limbs and uncontrolled motion.

Shippen added, "Improving your posture while in the garden could help you avoid injuries and gain the maximum benefit."
-end-
The complete article is available on the ASHS HortTechnology electronic journal web site: http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/27/6/746.full. Or you may contact Dr. James Shippen at Coventry University at j.shippen@coventry.ac.uk or (44) 24-7688-7072.

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticulture Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticulture research, education, and application. More information at ashs.org.

American Society for Horticultural Science

Related Stress Articles:

Captive meerkats at risk of stress
Small groups of meerkats -- such as those commonly seen in zoos and safari parks -- are at greater risk of chronic stress, new research suggests.
Stress may protect -- at least in bacteria
Antibiotics harm bacteria and stress them. Trimethoprim, an antibiotic, inhibits the growth of the bacterium Escherichia coli and induces a stress response.
Some veggies each day keeps the stress blues away
Eating three to four servings of vegetables daily is associated with a lower incidence of psychological stress, new research by University of Sydney scholars reveals.
Prebiotics may help to cope with stress
Probiotics are well known to benefit digestive health, but prebiotics are less well understood.
Building stress-resistant memories
Though it's widely assumed that stress zaps a person's ability to recall memory, it doesn't have that effect when memory is tested immediately after a taxing event, and when subjects have engaged in a highly effective learning technique, a new study reports.
Stress during pregnancy
The environment the unborn child is exposed to inside the womb can have a major effect on her or his development and future health.
New insights into how the brain adapts to stress
New research led by the University of Bristol has found that genes in the brain that play a crucial role in behavioural adaptation to stressful challenges are controlled by epigenetic mechanisms.
Uncertainty can cause more stress than inevitable pain
Knowing that there is a small chance of getting a painful electric shock can lead to significantly more stress than knowing that you will definitely be shocked.
Stress could help activate brown fat
Mild stress stimulates the activity and heat production by brown fat associated with raised cortisol, according to a study published today in Experimental Physiology.
Experiencing major stress makes some older adults better able to handle daily stress
Dealing with a major stressful event appears to make some older adults better able to cope with the ups and downs of day-to-day stress.

Related Stress Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Bias And Perception
How does bias distort our thinking, our listening, our beliefs... and even our search results? How can we fight it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the unconscious biases that shape us. Guests include writer and broadcaster Yassmin Abdel-Magied, climatologist J. Marshall Shepherd, journalist Andreas Ekström, and experimental psychologist Tony Salvador.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#514 Arctic Energy (Rebroadcast)
This week we're looking at how alternative energy works in the arctic. We speak to Louie Azzolini and Linda Todd from the Arctic Energy Alliance, a non-profit helping communities reduce their energy usage and transition to more affordable and sustainable forms of energy. And the lessons they're learning along the way can help those of us further south.