- Make sure your body is properly conditioned when doing outside work. Warmed-up muscles will be less likely to tighten up or snap when under the strains of bending, pulling, pushing, reaching, or stooping. You can warm up by taking a brisk walk or doing simple stretching exercises, such as knee-to-chest pulls, trunk rotations, and side bends with hands above your head and fingers locked.
- Always carry objects close to your body, near your center of gravity. This minimizes the strain to your lower back and neck.
- Change positions if you're involved in doing a task such as kneeling or sitting. This will improve your circulation and mobility. Don't overdo it. Alternate between several tasks to keep yourself alert, and take regular rest breaks.
- Let your arms, legs and thighs, not your back, do the work when lifting heavy items, such as bags of mulch or dirt. Bend and straighten at the knees instead of your back and hips. Never pick up a load that causes you to grunt - this is your body telling you that you're overdoing it.
- The longer the handle on your garden tools, the greater leverage you have and the less force and twisting motions you need to perform routine tasks. Imagine having to rake leaves with a six-inch handle. The longer the handle, the less work and strain. This is especially true for chores involving raking, digging, pushing, and mowing. When doing ground-level chores, such as weeding or planting, do not repeatedly bend over. Rather, get close to the ground by either kneeling or sitting (foam pads or small benches are made especially for these kinds of chores). When doing prolonged tasks, such as raking, hoeing, or digging, frequently switch hands. This helps to maximize the amount of energy reserves you use in muscles on both sides of your body.
- Repetitive motion on one side of your body can lead to serious problems, such as muscle spasms in the neck, shoulder, and lower back. When you stand up after crouching or kneeling for a long period of time, do so slowly and gently to avoid muscle pulls or even joint dislocations. Straighten your legs at the knees, and do not lift your torso at the waist.