Digging tips

Question ...

I have arthritis, I would be grateful if you could provide some tips and advice on the correct posture and method for using a fork and spade, whilst digging, to prevent future back problems.

Answer ...

Digging is definitely an art and doing it properly makes it much easier and less strenuous. The main points to consider are:

  • Do some simple warm up exercises before you start
  • Always use clean, sharp tools. Wipe tools over with a damp cloth after use to remove soil before putting them away. The blade of a spade can also be 'sharpened' slightly if necessary
  • Push the blade into the soil with your foot, always wearing strong boots
  • Don't overload the spade with heavy clumps of soil
  • Dig out a trench first, then dig backwards, turning the soil into the trench as you go
  • Limit your digging time to manageable sessions, around 30 minutes at a time
  • After a few minutes of digging, straighten up, and with hands on the lumbar area, bend gently backwards. Repeat, often
  • Keep your back straight when lifting and bend your knees

Have you considered growing using the no dig method of gardening?

Garden Organic members can see our factsheet on no-dig gardening for more information.

Garden Organic members can see our expert factsheets for further advice on organic gardening. Access to factsheets requires a members' password.