The Ergonomic Gardener
Posted on September 1, 2011 | in Ergonomics
Just because summer is at a close, don’t put away your shovel and rake quite yet. Harvest has just begun and there is still a lot of work to do outside. We’ve got the tips to make your gardening projects and yard work hurt a whole lot less.
Ergonomic Gardening Tips
- To avoid lifting, rake leaves onto a canvas tarp. When full, pull the tarp and unload the debris to the desired location.
- Always use gloves (knee pads can be used to) to provide padding and to prevent cuts and scrapes. Gloves should be form-fitting. Thin gloves are preferred; too much padding will decrease hand strength, coordination and power grip.
- Use ergonomic tools. Just because the tool says “ergonomic” does not mean it is.
- Pay attention to handle diameter, size and weight. Telescopic and pistol-grip handles require less energy to perform work; a curved handle, like ones similar to Radius Garden’s hand trowel, provides more leverage with less wrist stress since it is designed to fit the natural curve of the hand.
- Maintain tools by keeping them sharp and oiled. A dull blade will require more effort and force and could lead to injury.
- Elbows should be kept below heart level as much as possible. The use of long-handed tools or taking periodic breaks to minimize such movements will keep your body in a comfortable position.
- Avoid working with your thumbs pointing toward the floor. This arm position “wings” your elbow out and reduces your applied strength while adding stress to the body.
- Work with wrists in a neutral position – straight, in line with forearm, and with thumbs up. Remember to hold objects with a light grasp or grip.
- Avoid fine-motor repetitive movements such as pinching and pulling, these movements are often used with the finger and the thumb
- Try to minimize your continuous extended reaches to fewer than 10 to 15 seconds. Take short breaks between segments to prevent injury and overexertion.
- Minimize the time spent working with your head and neck in an extended position (looking up). Take periodic breaks to avoid fatigue.
Now, go outside and get to work!