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How do you farm peeps protect your back?

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  • How do you farm peeps protect your back?

    After being laid up this week with a lumbar strain from heaving manure buckets at work, I'm hoping some of you folks might have some ideas for me. My boss & I are working on a different system that might be more efficient and less likely to cause issues (because she rules! Thank goodness for working for good people ) But regardless I do a lot of heavy lifting in my line of work (managing a small private farm).

    Do you wear a back brace? What kind, does it really help? Any stretches that you can recommend? What else are you doing to keep your back in good shape?

  • #2
    you need to keep your abs strong to support your back.
    That helps the most. I wear a back brace if my back starts yelling at me.
    chaque pas est fait ensemble


    • #3
      And due to weight lifting...learning the best way to pick up and carry heavy stuff.
      Not that that will help all the time, because it seems most back injuries are from the dumbest little things or moving just the smallest bit wrong. My hubby threw his back out putting on a sock once.
      But I am a bit of a freak with hitting the weights and strength building. Mostly because I have arthritis and have had it for some time. Since I was young. I've found over the years that having a good muscle base and stretching well and often supports my joints a whole lot and I suffer a lot less from the arthritis because of that. My doctor told me the muscles help prevent a buttload of pulled stuff too.
      They sell those lower back supports too. Those work well, but if you're on the small side it's not easy to find ones that adjust small enough to fit.
      You jump in the saddle,
      Hold onto the bridle!
      Jump in the line!


      • Original Poster

        Yeah, the nurse was telling me that tall people generally have far more back issues than short ones - which doesn't surprise me in light of what I know about horse conformation

        Misty - for lifting weights/building muscle, do you just have some weights? Do you hit the gym? What kind of a routine do you have? TIA! I am on the smaller side (6' and about 145) so we'll see if I can find one...


        • #5
          Hubby has a horrible back. In fact, he's on his second shift now after being on convalescent leave for 3 months. What has helped him (aside from the time off that he needed -- let's face it, paramedics have NO control over making ergonomically correct choices when they're on the job) has been yoga and core strength. The core muscles help keep things in line as they work, the yoga helps keep them loose in between.
          "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

          "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike


          • #6
            Dazed...yep, taller people do have a rougher time with backs...*and* knees usually too. Especially if you grew fast as preteen and teen. Growth spurts for pople who end up tall often cause later problems.
            I'm...compact...compared to you. I'm almost a foot shorter, LOL! At 145 you're definitely slender at that height.
            I use both free weights and a Soloflex...I find the Soloflex (or a bow flex or similar) is a good way to start out with weight training. The way the machine moves helps people keep their lifts straight and even, crooked lifting will cause injuried and more problems than it fixes. The machines aren't cheap, but even brand new they're often less than a year's membership to a good gym. I work out at home, have a full gym in my basement, it's easier for me. Depends on the person, some prefer going to a gym and some prefer working out at home. I find I stick to it 100% if it's at home and I don't have to get in a car and go somewhere, but many others find it easier to stick to working out if they go to a gym. Work out buddies helps a lot if you join a gym, then you feel guilty skipping any days.
            You can find used soloflex or other full home gyms in the paper or at tag sales or on Craig's List often. Both when new (or if the previous owner saved it) come with either posters, videos or booklets that have all the workouts you can do and what areas they target. With pictures, so that's a big help. Roma situps have been my best core strength builder...those can be done without machines or weights. Set a chair sideways in front of a bureau or other heavy furniture that has a low bottom. Sit on the chair facing the dresser, place your feet under the dresser and cross your arms over your chest or place them on your hips. Keeping your back perfectly flat, pivot backwards at your hips and lower your upper body back by using only your stomach muscles. When you get close to flat back, hold that position for a count of 3 and then slowly raise upright again using only your abs muscles. Do not hunch your shoulders or neck forward when raising. You can twist your upper body *at the waist* one direction or another to work your lateral obliques and repeat. This type of "sit up" is a lot less hard on people in general and yet it works out *all* your core muscles...upper and lower abs (lower abs are a pain to target with crunches or regular sit ups) side abs and lower back. This exercise is what causes the 6 pack ab look too. You can't get a 6 pack in the front if the sides and back muscles aren't as toned as the front.
            Soreness the first week is normal...but after a short time it definitely kicks your endorphins into high gear and you feel *fantastic* after a good work out. It also does wonders for riding...seriously noticeable difference when you build up both your core strength and limb strength. I'm uncoordinated by nature...a klutz actually. But when in the tack my balance is very natural due to the core strength.
            Also, add in some pilates or yoga...get a video that comes with a yoga mat or a workout ball at places like WalMart. Cheap and easy to learn how to do those right. Stretching is a HUGE benefit too...stretched muscles rarely get pulls or pinches and it also alleviates some of the tightness and soreness of working with weights.
            For cardio...since I HATE cardio....I use either a punching bag and kick box it to death (and sometimes it kicks my butt back LOL) or I put on the radio and crank up some fast music and dance like I was a crack-addict at a Rave. That way cardio is fun...maybe not watching me do it but at leaast it's fun for me.

            For the back support...look in a CVS for them. They tend to carry smaller sizes than you'll find in a Home Depot or other gyms. But once you wear one after hurting your back, you'll feel the difference the support gives. Look for ones with a wide velcro band attachment. The more velcro, the easier it is to adjust down in size.
            And be very careful to not lift something heavy and twist...like when lifting full buckets to hang. Carry the bucket to in front of wher you hang in and then face the hanger and in one smooth motion lift and settle it on the hanger. Being short I find it easiest on my back to lift the bucket straight up and then I lift a knee and brace the bucket bottom with my knee while I hook the top with my hands. That way I'm not fumbling with the weight and my leg is supporting it.
            You jump in the saddle,
            Hold onto the bridle!
            Jump in the line!


            • #7
              Number one thing would be to not do stuff in stupid ways. Like "heaving manure buckets". There's a reason real farmers of old used a pitchfork and a wheelbarrow! There's all kinds of dump carts nowdays, and if you are dumping into a manure spreader, a "dock" that you can dump down into it instead of boosting up to it makes sense if you are doing more than just dinking around with one or two small-pooping horses. There's no reason to be "heaving manure buckets" except a devotion to a creed that makes you feel like you are "really doing it right".


              • #8
                Do your work in ergonomically correct ways, ie what G and B said. Use gravity, levers or pulleys, mechanical contrivances such as post hole diggers etc. Set a moderate pace and stick to it.

                Unfortunately for me I don't follow my own advice. I bailed out part of a construction hole (replaced frost free hydrant) that had filled with water because it was "too hard" to get a siphon started. My shoulder didn't hurt till the next day and then it was quite sore for weeks. I guess they call that the weekend warrior syndrome. Yoga does help, along with light resistance/weight training. We've investigated back braces for use at my work, anecdotal evidence says that they work while you wear them but your back may become weaker so that you are injured performing tasks at home. If you opt to use one please keep up an exercise/stretching regime to protect your back.

                Hope you feel better soon!
                Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                Incredible Invisible


                • #9
                  You have to learn to use your legs for lifting, not your back.


                  • #10
                    It wasn't until I joined a gym and did a weights class that I learned how to lift properly; do you have time to go to a gym fairly regularly that has a good weights instructor?

                    Also, not that I'm an MD or even a DVM, but popping ibuprofen or robax afterwards may help with initial pain/inflammation.


                    • Original Poster

                      I did see a doctor the day after it happened Romany and that's just what they prescribed (muscle relaxers & painkillers). I'm doing much better this week thankfully. Riding in the car is still rather painful but nothing like the excruciating pain of last week! I *never* want to experience this ever again so definitely taking all these suggestions to heart...

                      There's a yoga studio right around the corner from my house, so I'll definitely look into that. I do have a gym relatively close by too, so I may have to make that investment soon as well.

                      Graysandbays - normally I enjoy your irascible commentary. I can assure you I had no attachment to the system we had, I just didn't have a better way to do it until today. We use a large dumpster (3 cubic yard size, IIRC?) for manure removal, rather than a spreader or wheelbarrow situation. We've figured out a more mechanical way to do it using the bucket on the tractor though, which will involve much less heavy lifting thankfully There will still be some involved but now I have some good suggestions on how to do that better.

                      Thanks for all the useful suggestions guys. Appreciate it.


                      • #12
                        I lift with my back, run with scissors, and never get a second opinion.

                        Of course, I'm kidding. Honestly, I think strong core muscles have been my saving grace. The only time I've ever really hurt my back with long standing results around the barn was by stepping of a small step in the dark and "straight knee'd" the landing. The Russian judge gave me a 2.

                        That being said though, I know if I repeatedly did muck buckets into the back of a gator or whatever, I'd be in deep shite. Works great with 2 people. With one, not so much. Have the T-shirt, as they say. Very wise to find a different system.

                        I think the major deal with muck buckets is heavy lifting coupled with twisting. When you throw that bad boy to dump it, you twist. Heavy lifting not bad when done with your legs. Heavy lifting and then throwing in a twist (which can really only happen by using your back to twist) =bad juju. The system of muck bucket into gator was great. Until I did it repetitively. When I started to feel it, I started just backing the gator up to the stalls and cutting out the middle man muck bucket.

                        Hope you are on the mend soon! Back stuff is so not fun, though I can't complain about the prescriptions. What can I say. I'm a cheap date.
                        "Aye God, Woodrow..."


                        • #13
                          Hire strapping field hands. Not kidding.

                          I used to try to do it myself to save $$ and ended paying for doctors, adjustments, massage and painkillers. And I'm a lifelong Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, yogini, pilates and dance person, so I know how to use my body correctly.!


                          • #14
                            gut Sucking

                            Another rule to remember when lifting is to suck in those gut muscles before you lift. I can't wait to try Misty B's sit up exercise to see if I can lose Mt. Rushmore, better known as my stomach. A six pack, isn't that how you buy beer. Wouldn't know any other kind if it hit me in the gut.


                            • #15
                              If your doctor will write the prescription and your insurance will cover it, make an appointment with a physical therapist. Not only will they show you exercises to improve your core strength (no equipment needed!), they should also show you how to "properly" lift and bend. You'll start out having to think a lot about what you're doing, in order to do it correctly, but after your muscles get trained, it will become second nature to lift correctly.

                              I'm not a fan of back braces. Some people end up relying on the brace to support them, rather than developing their own muscles to support them. This can turn into a vicious cycle. On the other hand, the brace can act as a reminder (if you're pressing against it, you're probably not engaging your core) to support your back.

                              I do have a six pack. Unfortunately, it's well insulated.
                              “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Dazednconfused View Post
                                Graysandbays - normally I enjoy your irascible commentary. I can assure you I had no attachment to the system we had, I just didn't have a better way to do it until today. ...
                                Guess I wasn't clear enough regarding the generic "you" I intended to convey in my post. I wasn't trying to accuse you specifically of having an "attachment" to the stystem -- just saying that was the only reason for anybody to insist on continuing to do it that way.

                                There's a lot of horse stuff that gets done certain ways for no better reason than "I was taught that this is 'the right way' and doing it 'the right way' reflects on my value as a rider/horse mommy/horse owner/horse person" but don't make any real sense.

                                Sometimes we do it without even realizing it until circumstances make it impossible to continue doing so. Then we are forced to either adapt to the circumstances and come up with other ways or fight the futile fight to keep doing it "the right way".


                                • #17
                                  Those muck buckets into dumpsters are the worst system. Hope the tractor bucket works for you.

                                  I do anything involving my back much slower than other chores and carefully every time. I am a tall thin person and know I do not have the strength to muscle things, so do not even try - I go find a lever or hire my friend's football boys. Perhaps wimpiness has helped save my back from major injury in 50 years of doing barn chores and stacking hay.

                                  I also have a wonderful vet who mixes up some liquid DMSO with Prednasone (Azium) 50/50 which instantly reduces pain, daubed on a muscle strain 2X per day. Could not live without it when I tweak that little muscle between the shoulder blades.
                                  Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


                                  • #18
                                    Fitness for the job at hand, good core strength, correct body mechanics is 99% of the solution. Back braces feel good for some, but do virtually nothing to support or change the forces we apply to our backs.

                                    A good trainer or physical therapist can be worth their weight in gold in dealing with chronic back problems when one has a job (or avocation!) that means a lot of lifting, bending, pulling, etc. Good "back hygiene" isn't natural to us, we have to learn it, but it can be hugely important.

                                    All the women in my family have bad backs, I'm the only one (so far, touch wood!!!) who doesn't. You have to GET AND STAY FIT, not do stupid things like fling 400 bales of hay in one day just because you want to keep up with the hay guy and pay attention to good habits: use the thigh muscles instead of the back muscles for lifting as much as you can. Lots of core exercises (that's the 21st century term for lots of situps, LOL) and keep the weight under control. Move, move, move, stay moving and stay fit and flexible.
                                    Click here before you buy.


                                    • #19
                                      I use pilates for core strength, deep tissue massage, and occasional chiropractic adjustments. The pilates and the massage kept me going all through hay season when my husband and I had to put away 3000 bales by ourselves :-)
                                      JB-Infinity Farm


                                      • #20
                                        Besides having somebody else do the heavy work... a front end loader on the tractor saves my back. Lifting and twisting is to be avoided at all times.
                                        Equus makus brokus but happy