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Hip hinging and gardening

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Hip hinging and gardening

Earlier this year I spent a few weeks in India, and spent probably more time than was polite watching women sweeping, manicuring grass and cement mixing while hip hinging in the most beautiful, elegant and seemingly effortless way. One of the tools the women were using was a short handled "spade", the handle and blade of the spade forming a sort of v shape, and used by digging the blade in and then pulling towards the feet. Sort of like how you would use a pick axe but gentler.  I'm about to start a lot of digging over of my vegetable plot, which done the "normal way" hurts my lower back. I dont know what these v shaped tools are called or how best to use them.  Any thoughts on this would be very helpful.  (Looking at page 163 of the 8 Steps book fig 7-18 seems to depict something similar.)

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Hi John, I think you are referring to what is typically called a "short handle hoe". Yes, digging and pulling can be easier on the back, plus you also get a good workout for your rhomboid muscles by making sure you keep your shoulders back as you dig. (The rhomboids are the muscles in the upper back, between the shoulder blades, that help keep the shoulders from slumping forward when they are well-toned.) That is wonderful that you had the opportunity to see Hiphinging in action!
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Maya, Thanks - I've found examples of a "short handled hoe" and it is what I wanted.  I will order one and use it while practicing hip-hinging. Interestingly I came across this article while searching. http://www.pineforge.com/newman5study/resources/murray1.htm Its local to you in California and reports hostility to the short handled hoe, dating from the 1920s. Maybe the real cause of the back problems was the predomominant notion of posture that took hold from around 1920. All I know for certain is that the women in India use a similar tool with considerable grace, which I hope to emulate. 
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Great, I'm glad you found what you wanted. That is an interesting article. Yes - I would be willing to bet that these people who reported pain were not hiphinging. If you suddenly start bending for 8 hours a day when you've been used to standing, your back muscles (erector spinae muscles and rhomboids, for example) are likely not strong enough to support the position for that long, and so even if you do start off bending well at the beginning of the day, once the muscles tire, then you may end up rounding the back. If you are going to start gardening by hiphinging, work your way up to it - don't try to stick it out for hours and continue to stay bent over once your back muscles tire, in the interest of maintaining good hiphinging form. Once those muscles are really strong, like those of the African women who collect water chestnuts (page 151 of 8 Steps), then you can hiphinge well for hours at a time.
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