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Master Gardener: Working smart in the yard

The first time I push-mowed my yard, dug in the beds and stretched over ladders to prune tall trees and shrubs this season, I was reminded shortly afterward of my age, but also how I didn’t properly work out in my yard. Gardeners need not only warm up their muscles prior to vigorous work in their yard, but also need to 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 back, arms and shoulders. Avoid carrying heavy loads like watering cans with one hand. Make several trips carrying lighter loads rather than one monumental 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. When 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.

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