Pull the other one – Gardening is now the most common cause of muscle injuries in UK

senior woman gardeningBrits are most likely to injure themselves gardening and a worryingly high percentage of people simply ignore their injuries or mistreat them according to a new survey.

Research carried out by pain relieving gel, Polar Frost found that the common cause of muscle injury for Brits is gardening with 35% revealing they had pulled a muscle while flexing their green finger muscles.

The survey revealed there is a significant knowledge gap of how to treat basic muscle injuries and general sprains. When treating a muscular injury, 39% of Brits take painkillers as their default form of treatment, 14% use rest as their only form of treatment and a further 14% admit to not taking any action at all, according to the Polar Frost survey.

The survey of 2,000 Brits also found that 30% have pulled muscles while carrying heavy shopping bags, 21% while doing DIY and 5% while having sex. Men were found to be three times more likely to injure themselves playing sport (27% v 9%), and twice as likely to do so in the bedroom (6% v 3%), while women were three times more likely to pick up a sprain on a dancefloor (9% v 3%) and nearly twice as likely to injure themselves from falling over (29% v 17%).

GP and medical broadcaster Dr Sarah Jarvis who features on the BBC’s One Show said: “By leaving an injury untreated, a once fixable problem can result in having long term, serious implications. It’s essential we also educate people on how to stay healthy and treat minor niggles using cold gels, elevation and compression to get them back up and out again as soon as possible.”

The most common injuries which put people out of action for a fortnight or more are backache (15%), muscle strains (9%), muscle inflammation (7%) and neck ache (6%) – all of which can be easily treated to significantly speed recovery.

While Brits will miss out on their next gardening project, run or gym session through injury, they won’t skip the office. Only 10% surveyed said they had taken any time off for muscle-related injuries, yet 3% of those people have taken a whopping 21 days off or more!

Dr Sarah Jarvis’ top 5 tips to treat back ache and muscle strains

1. Rest is crucial for the first 2-3 days after an injury

2. Keeping the injured joint up and strapped firmly as much as possible will also help reduce

3. Ice or cold gels are good, but avoid heat (whether from heat packs or saunas) for the first few

4. If you’ve sprained a joint, move it gently in all directions several times a day to avoid stiffening

5. Avoid massaging your joint for the first three days – after that, gentle massage can be soothing

Top 5 causes of muscle strains and sprains


1. Gardening 35%

2. Carrying heavy bags 30%

3. Falling over 24%

4. DIY 21%

5. Sport 18%


1. Gardening 36%

2. Carrying heavy bags 34%

3. Falling over 29%

4. Cleaning 24%

5. Dancing / Sport – both 9%

Top 5 most active regions of the UK (based on exercising 2-3 times a week)

1. London 30%

2. Scotland 24%

3. Northern Ireland 23%

4. East Midlands 20%

5. South West 19%