Lifting, reaching & other tasks

Body mechanics involves the utilization of correct muscles to complete a task safely and efficiently, without undue strain of any muscle or joint. Some principles of good body mechanics include:


  • Use your leg muscles – not your back! – for lifting. (Leg muscles are much stronger than back muscles)
  • Bend at the knees and hips, while keeping your back straight, so that you can grasp the object and hold it close to your body
  • Stand up -- & lift straight upward -- in one smooth motion
Lifting - step 1 Lifting - step 2 Lifting - step 3 Lifting - step 4


  • Stand directly in front of and as close to the object as possible
  • Use a stool or ladder for high objects
  • Reach straight for the object & avoid twisting (“keep your nose between your toes”)
  • Minimize the distance you must stretch. (Stretching can cause you to lose your balance).

Working at ground level:

  • Squat (bend at the hips & knees), using your leg muscles to return to a standing position OR
  • Sit or lie down
  • Do NOT bend at the waist



Always vary your tasks! Doing any one task for too long puts unnecessary strain on your body.

Principles of physics & other suggestions to help with gardening / farming tasks:

  • It’s easier to pull, push or roll an object than it is to lift it
  • Less energy or force is required to keep an object moving than to stop and start it
  • Movements should be smooth and coordinated rather than jerky
  • Minimize use of back muscles and instead use leg and arm muscles
  • Keep work as close to your body as possible
  • Rock backward and forward on your feet to use your body weight as a pushing or pulling force
  • Keep your body in good physical condition to reduce the chance of injury