The snow has melted (mostly) and it’s almost time for spring clean-up and yard care. Spring in Oregon is beautiful, but unfortunately, with the sunny weather comes an increase in low back, shoulder, knee, and hand pain/injuries. Let’s do it right this year with good body mechanics, proper tools, and smart work strategies for the garden!
Here are Some Yard Work Safety Tips to Help You Be Successful:
- Start with a wide base of support while facing what you are going to be lifting.
- Avoid reaching out of your center of gravity. If needed, move yourself close to the object.
- Squat by sitting your bottom back and hinging at your hips while bending at the knees. Keep your back straight – do NOT round/bend at your back. You will be stronger by keeping it straight to absorb the load you are lifting through your legs.
- Bring the load as close to your your body as possible and begin lifting slowly; no quick or jerky movements. Push from your legs; do not pull up from your back.
- Turn your feet! Do not twist from your spine. Keep your belly button and toes facing the same direction at all times.
Take 10-15 minutes to get your body warmed up and ready for the garden with dynamic stretches and warm ups of your arms, legs, and back. This could be with a walk around the block or doing a dynamic warm up (or both!)
Choose the Right Equipment
Pick equipment that is proportionate and ergonomic to your body size. Using long handled, light-weight pruners or a soaker hose instead of dragging heavy hoses/watering cans around the yard. Transporting items in a 4-wheeled garden cart or wagon that is independently stable is very useful.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Make smaller loads and take more trips, whether that is with a wheelbarrow or making more piles to pick up. You are more likely to injure yourself picking up larger, more awkward, and heavier loads.
Know When You Need a Hand
Some things are not meant to be lifted by one person and two (or more) are required. Be okay with asking for help and waiting for the troops to arrive!
Switch Tasks Frequently
It can be very frustrating to not complete an entire task at one time, but repetitive use injuries are a common problem with yard work. Mix it up and do a few minutes of weeding, then stand up to stretch and move on to a standing task for a few minutes. It will all get done, but with less risk of injury.
Take Frequent Breaks
Take rest breaks and drink some water. Staying hydrated is important even when it is not particularly hot out. This can also be a time that you can walk around the garden to take inventory of what has been done and still needs some work.
Dress for the Weather
Give your feet some love and consideration with shoes that have an arch and cushion. You may even consider hiking boots to support your ankles on uneven ground. Avoid slip-on shoes without backs; these can be dangerous and can initiate foot pain. Wear long sleeves, hats, gloves and/or other protective clothing, and sunscreen, of course – the sun and clouds can be super sneaky.
If you’re going to be gardening specifically, watch our videos below:
Wishing you a wonderful and injury-free spring!