“Lift with your legs!”
Those are the words I heard over and over again today from Farmer Katie. The concept was lost on me. I thought I WAS lifting with my legs. She then proceeded to demonstrate by doing some crazy ballet style squatting that looked very similar to a frog getting ready to leap. I laughed as I tried to imitate this awkward movement. I felt like my knees were going to give out on me. I’m sure this has a lot to do with the many years I spent wearing combat boots on a big steel ship while I was in the Navy. My knees aren’t what they use to be, neither is my back!
It’s amazing how something so simple as proper lifting can be a challenge to those of us who have apparently been doing it wrong our whole lives. However big the challenge though, this is a very serious subject. In 1995 a study done on “Injuries Among Farm Workers” in the United States by the Department of Health and Human Services showed that back injuries account for 14.4% of lost-time farm injuries. Back injuries are only preceded by the broad category of leg/knee/hip injuries, which holds the number one spot at 17.4%. Farm injuries can lead to a lifetime of problems as well as lost wages, not to mention a decline in the production of the farm. These injuries are not only seen amongst the older age brackets either. The same study shows that 36.5% of all injuries resulting in lost time come from farm workers 20-39 years of age.
In a nutshell, if you are working on a farm you need to take care of your body. Do some stretches before you head out to the field, learn how to lift properly, and pay attention to what is going on around you. Farming is a wonderful and fulfilling career, but it’s also one of the most dangerous.