Holding a tool – a hedge clipper, for example – out in front of you and then attempting to complete the task with your arms is another source of stress. We must “train our back muscles to join the game,” Mr. Hughes suggested, particularly those that pull down the shoulder blades. Consider sliding them into your back trouser pockets as if they were sliding down.

The seesaw is the term he uses to describe this delicate dance between your arms and your back muscles. “Simply being aware of them and practicing using them makes them as strong as they need to be,” he added.

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The armchair position comes into play again when lifting a large pot or a bag of potting soil — a move that can play havoc with your back if it’s done wrong. “Just make it part of your body,” Mr. Hughes said. “Don’t hold it out in front of you.”

The armchair position comes into play again when lifting a large pot or a bag of potting soil — a move that can play havoc with your back if it’s done wrong. “Just make it part of your body,” Mr. Hughes said. “Don’t hold it out in front of you.”Credit…

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

The armchair position comes into play again when lifting a large pot or a bag of potting soil — a move that can play havoc with your back if it’s done wrong. “Just make it part of your body,” Mr. Hughes said. “Don’t hold it out in front of you.”

If It’s a Heavy Lift …

When it’s time to raise that big pot or bag of potting soil, the home base of the armchair comes into play once more. If performed incorrectly, this action may wreak havoc on your back.

“Just make it part of your body,” Mr. Hughes said. “Don’t hold it out in front of you.”