Gardeners know only too well the next day aftermath of power tool useage. But it is easily solved when you understand how you are bringing it upon yourself. Here’s the lesson in coordination that didn’t come with the manual on “how to use the tool” so that you can stop it from happening in the future.
My very first client was a tall englishman who willingly traded his whipper snipper and blower/vac for lessons. Not realising that these tools were both too small for his tall frame was his first mistake that could have saved a lot of pain… however, if he knew how to bend, lunge and stay within his centre of gravity he could have still managed them in spite of his lengthy legs.
So here goes…
1. Don’t reach forward. Stay within reach of what you’re cutting or blowing. That goes for the chainsaw also. You wouldn’t reach out (off balance) with a spinning set of teeth unless you wanted to slip and chop the wrong limb, so why would you reach off balance with a whipper snipper? All it does is increase the load into your neck and shoulders… and lower back.
2. Use the strap across your body and avoid lifting the tool with your shoulders. That sounds so obvious and you might even think “I don’t do that”, but it’s entirely likely that your shoulders are doing much more than they need to. The lifting should only be in your legs.
3. Swing from side to side through your hips/pelvis, not the shoulders or arms alone. Picture the amateur golfer who hacks at the ball with only his arms… does it work? And yes, amateurs are most likely candidates for back issues with their golf swing. A professional golfer swings the club from their pelvis…the arms come last.
4. Stay free in the hip joints so that you can tip forward rather than bend through the lower back. This is a little more tricky as most people don’t even know where their hip joints are located and therefore are bending blindly from some imaginary hinge…normally L3/4/5.
5. Use your pelvis as the counterbalance for the weight of the tool. This is of course related to No.4 as if you simply tip forward you will be overbalancing. Coordinating the tip forward while swinging the pelvis backward isn’t usually a normal movement in the gardener with back issues… they feel like they’re “sticking their bums out” too far.
6. OK… so a bonus one. When you lift the strap up and over your head, see if it’s possible to not pull your head down and forward. So in other words, stay fully upright and move the tool not your bowling-ball head. Every time you put your head forward you’re bringing 10-19kgs of load into the neck and shoulders!
What do you end up with if you’re handling all of these tips besides less strain in the neck and back?
Greater core strength, flexibility in the hips and legs, improved posture in general and solid, functional resiliency for the rest of your week.
A gardener should be the strongest and most mobile of all people if they are moving well.
If you’re constantly noticing the stress in your body after gardening to the point of tentativeness then you need to attend the func®Shop on Saturday 20th Feb for Gardeners hosted by amoči.me. Click here for tickets and information.