Pumpkins seem to be the order of the day at present. They do come in all sizes and shapes, but as ever, you are always drawn (possibly under the persuasion of a little person!) to the biggest one.
The last thing you want is a fantastic pumpkin and a bad back from not lifting it properly!
The most basic preventative solution is – to find a fit-looking, helpful person to lift it for you. If that’s not an option, here are a few other guidelines to help minimize the risk.
Before leaving home on your giant pumpkin quest, consider what you are wearing. If you’ve been clinging on to summer, we suggest this is the time to ditch the shorts and flip-flops in favour of long trousers and your sturdiest walking boots. A good pair of non-slip, gardening-style gloves would be handy, too.
- Size up the pumpkin: Assess its weight and shape. If it looks like a bruiser, consider asking for a helping hand or using a mechanical aid to move it, at least, like a hand truck or wheelbarrow.
- If collecting a pumpkin from a field, make sure the ground you are going to stand on is not too uneven, slippy, boggy or wet. It may not be the weight of the pumpkin, but the fact you’ve ended up on your backside that may cause the issue.
- That said, stand close to the pumpkin with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight and your shoulders back. Avoid slouching or hunching over the pumpkin.
- To lift the pumpkin, bend your knees while keeping your back straight. This will lower your centre of gravity and engage the strong muscles in your legs – these are pretty strong muscles, so use them.
- Get a good grip; otherwise, you could end up on your backside; again, see point 2.
- Brace your core by tightening your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine. This will provide additional support for your lower back.
- Keep the pumpkin close to your body as you lift. Do not twist or turn your body while lifting.
- Take small steps when moving the pumpkin. Avoid rushing or making sudden movements, which can strain your back, and watch where you are walking.
- Reverse the lifting process to lower the pumpkin. Bend your knees, and keep your back straight. If moving to a wheelbarrow or hand truck, make sure to apply breaks or ask someone to hold it steady before lowering in your pumpkin – a wobbly wheelbarrow could cause you many problems.
If all this sounds like your annual Manual Handling Training, that’s because it’s exactly that. But we all know how easy it is to forget good practices when driven by festive excitement (and those persuasive little people)!
And, remember, if things go wrong and you do hurt yourself lifting a giant pumpkin, or in any other way in Lymington and The New Forest – we are here to help you!
Have a Happy Halloween everyone.