Oh my aching back...

Try these simple solutions to ease back pain while farming.

April 28, 2011 - Author: Kelly Ewalt, AgrAbility, MSU Extension

We have all been taught to lift with our legs, not with our backs, but what about how to relieve strain on your back while sitting for long periods of time in a tractor? Much of the older equipment used on farms wasn’t designed with comfort or ergonomics in mind. During the long days of planting and harvest, and the constant strain of working livestock, there are simple modifications that can reduce back strain.

Let’s face it, when you’re sitting in the tractor, no matter the implement, you are constantly twisting in your seat to look behind you. This causes strain on the back, as well as the neck. If you’re not lucky enough to have one of the new ergonomic tractor seats, the following modifications can make a world of difference.

  • Rear View mirrors. This simple addition can give you a view of what is going on behind you, and is very inexpensive.
  • Rear-view cameras. A step up from the mirrors, this camera unit can be mounted on the back of a tractor. The camera view then displays on a small monitor mounted in the cab of the tractor, giving the driver a clear view of the implement without having to twist and turn.
  • Swiveling mounts can be easily added under traditional seats that don’t have this feature already built in.

Lifting and hauling modifications can also reduce the strain on your back.

  • Using specialized carts will reduce strain. Yard carts are similar to wheelbarrows in that materials are easily moved, however many types come with four wheels instead of two, making maneuvering the cart easier and reducing strain on the body. There are numerous manufacturers and styles available.
  • Handling feed or cleaning pens by hand can cause wear on your back as well. Adding a simple extra handle to shovels and rakes can help make the tools more ergonomic. D-ring handles are available at hardware stores for minimal cost, and peg handles are easily manufactured.

As always, listen to your body and rest when needed.  This is a brief list of the modifications available. For more information, contact Michigan AgrAbility.

Tags: farm management, field crops, fruit & nuts, msu extension, vegetables

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