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Body and Tool Sense

June 28, 2012

After going through physical therapy for a sore, stiff back due to a car accident, I am more aware of the need for proper lifting, carrying, sitting and standing than ever before. I will never say you’re too delicate, small, fragile or weak to strap on a tool belt and get to work, but, I will say this:

Be careful doing it, you’re a woman.

I have a bunch of tips to share with you on working safely and making sure you stay healthy and strong enough to drill and keep your body in shape to work another day.

  1. The Right Tool for the Job is a Women’s Tool: Women differ structurally from men. Our upper body strength is typically in our lower body. Even if we have a very strong upper body, it can be difficult to handle a too-heavy tool safely. Look for lighter tools made specifically for women. Check the grips and handles for comfort. Make sure each tool you choose is balanced (not inclined to tip forward or backward while in use). Also, adjust the torque on your power tools ahead of time so you don’t hurt your wrist from the force.
  2. Bend Your Knees: Lift objects correctly. Keep whatever you are lifting close to your body, bend at the knees and put one foot slightly forward for balance.
  3. Pain = Stop: Keep your arms and wrists loose, relaxed and not over-stretched while working. And, as in all your undertakings, if it hurts – stop.
  4. Keep your eyes safe: Always wear eye protection – no matter how dorky you look. If you must, you can try on the new, more stylish safety glasses. Just don’t forfeit your eyesight for fashion.
  5. Sit Down on the Job: Instead of bending over, kneeling or squatting, find a low stool and sit. Do DIY in comfort.
  6. Protect Your Insides Too: Wear a mask when working around construction dust. Never forget your ventilation mask when working near chemicals.
  7. Don’t Be Shocked by DIY: Do not work around any kind of water when holding or being near electrical tools. You don’t even need to see obvious wetness. A damp surface or your own perspiration can cause electrical shock.
  8. Even Out Your Weight: When carrying tools, whether in a bucket, on a tool belt or in a tool chest, distribute the weight equally between your right and left hands and/or arms. Carrying excessive weight on one side can cause back and muscle strains.

With these tips in mind and some good common sense, you can repair basically everything without breaking, bruising, cutting or pulling some piece of yourself. And that’s important. After all, your wholeness, your healthiness, your well-being is what picking up a tool belt (correctly!) is really about; the knowledge and ability to take care of yourself in all possible ways.

Here’s to women doing it right,

Jo Ellen Soesbee, The ToolBox TomGirl

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