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Master Gardener: Dealing with those moans and groans

Noticeable increase in groans and moans - both from myself and others attributable in large part to the workout we’re giving ourselves maintaining the garden and yard. The first time I push-mowed my yard, got down on the knees to work the flower beds over and stretched over the ladder to prune something way out of my reach, I was reminded shortly afterward of my age and also that I had not properly worked out in the yard. We gardeners need to warm up our muscles prior to vigorous work in the yard, and also practice proper methods for bending, lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling when doing yard work.

Carrying. Your arms, not your hands and fingers, should be the main source of power when moving objects. Carry loads close to the torso to protect your back, arms and shoulders. Avoid carrying heavy loads with one hand. Make several trips carrying lighter loads rather than one monumental (and later regrettable) effort.

Pushing. Keep abdominal muscles pulled in for back protection. Use your leg strength to help arms and shoulders when pushing a heavy load in a cart or wheelbarrow. Keep arms straight and knees slightly bent so that exertion is from the center of your body.

Dragging/Pulling. Keep knees flexed and back slightly rounded when pulling heavy tarps and the like. Avoid twisting torso when pulling something behind you.

Bending. Place feet small distance apart with one foot slightly in front of the other and with torso inclined forward from the hip. Avoid over-stressing knee joints and rounding back.

Lifting. Vvlhen lifting anything heavy, always center yourself in front of the object. Hold the load close to your torso for better balance and back protection. Try not to tense muscles prior to a lift. Place one foot slightly in front of the other and place body weight over forward leg for better balance.

Using common sense and moderation, make your workdays outside a good experience for you physically as well as for your gardening soul.

Gardening Tidbit. Cocoa farmers are finding they don’t have to strip land of existing tree canopy in order to have plots that produce good yields. Cocoa trees are actually understory trees that thrive in forests of up to 40% canopy cover.

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