How much can you lift? As a woman performing manual labor this question can be quite daunting. It is the difference between being seen as capable to do a job or a hindrance on a project. I did manual labor for many years and this number was the difference between being able to keep my job or not. I have never shied away from dirty or heavy work but I also know my limitations. At my peak I could carry two five gallon pails of prune puree (74 lbs), and lift a five gallon pail of oil to chest height (37 lbs), I could carry one or two car batteries (30-50 lbs each), I could move a pallet (30-70 lbs) etc. I knew how much my body was capable of.
Most women do not know their own strength. Every day we move through our daily activities lifting and carting loads of items without giving thought to what we are doing. A load of laundry (15 lbs), a four year old toddler (40 lbs), a gallon of milk (8.6 lbs), two bags of groceries (30 lbs), a car seat (25 lbs), a stroller (30 lbs). Although these measurements are approximate one quickly gets and understanding that women are capable of and do perform physical jobs every day.
We need to know how much we can lift. Many larger items have weights posted on them. Knowing our strength means knowing if we can safely do the job.
As women our centre of gravity is lower. Men carry weight higher such as lumber on their shoulders but as women we should carry weight at our hips. (Think about how we carry children on our hips).
When picking up an item how we lift it is important to our back health. Learn to lift correctly.
If you are not sure, test yourself by trying to lift a corner of an object like a table before committing to move it. Does it feel like something you can handle?
Be smart. I like to rearrange furniture in my house but some things are too heavy I usually choose to “walk” a large piece of furniture to a new location by lifting and moving one edge at a time forward. This can be more doable than lifting the whole item. Another option is sliding and object using carpet. Sometimes you can easily push an object rather than lift it.
Take more manageable loads. I had to go to the dump the other day and I needed to move 240 lbs of drywall by myself. I cannot manage that weight so I broke the drywall into smaller pieces and put them in boxes I could easily carry. 240 lbs of drywall into the van, 240 lbs of dry wall out of the van. 480 lbs total; Easy Peasy.
Leverage is our friend. Jars are a pain to open sometimes, and if a rubber-band around the lid doesn’t work I bought a jar opener that uses a lever. It makes my life a lot easier. The same can be said about loosening bolts. sometimes using a wrench as an extension can give you the advantage you need to get the job done.
Need to move something heavy in the back yard? Don’t hesitate to grab the wheel barrow or a cart.
Before asking for help decide if you need it, is there a way you could get the job done yourself? Chances are you are more able than you realize. This knowledge is another step towards self-sufficiency as a homesteader, as a trades worker, and as a woman.