10 Ways to Prevent Back Pain During Summer Yard Work
Love it or hate it, yard work can't be avoided during the summer months. Mowing, weeding, trimming, and mulching keeps your yard looking its best. But maintaining your yard isn't without its dangers. These 10 tips can help you avoid nagging back pain or injuries this summer.
Tip #1: Warm-Up
Keep your muscles and joints flexible by performing a few warm-up exercises before you begin working. Lunges, jumping jacks, stretches, or even a few laps around the yard get your blood flowing, relax your muscles, and improve flexibility along with range of motion. When your body is warm, your risk of injury is greatly reduced!
Tip #2: Wear Supportive Shoes
Your feet support the weight of your entire body and help keep your bones and joints balanced. Wearing worn-out or unsupportive shoes while you mow or complete other yard work may increase your risk of back pain.
For safety's sake, wear closed shoes that provide adequate support. If you have flat feet or another foot issue, you may benefit from wearing orthotics in your shoes. The custom shoe inserts add arch support, keep your feet properly aligned in your shoes and absorb shock. Arch support may be beneficial depending on your foot type to aid in supporting your foot. In the office, ART treatment of the plantar fascia, chiropractic adjustments of the foot and ankle joints, and rehab exercises for foot muscles can also help restore comfortable and supportive arches naturally.
Flip flops and sandals aren't good choices for yard work. Even if you choose styles that offer arch support, you may be more likely to slip or fall if your lawn, deck, patio, or walkways are wet.
Tip #3: Don't Put Your Back Into It
Poor lifting techniques can lead to stressed or strained back muscles. Before you attempt to lift a bag of mulch or move a heavy flower pot, place your feet about 18" apart to improve stability. Bending your knees when you lift reduces stress on your back. As you pick up the object, hold it close to your body, and use the muscles in your legs, not your back, to lift. Hinging at the hips is much safer than arching your back when you bend over.
Picture via NPR article, "Lost Art of Bending Over"
Tip #4: Know Your Limitations
You may be able to lift those large paving stones by yourself, but should you? If you know you'll struggle to carry objects even a few feet, it's best to ask for help. Although you may not notice any immediate problems, soreness and pain can set in just a few hours later.
Back pain should never be ignored, as it can become a chronic condition. Twenty percent of people who experience acute (sudden) pain develop chronic back pain after 12 months, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Tip #5: Alternate Hands
Most people primarily use their dominant hands when using garden tools. Digging or raking with your right hand for hours may stress the right side of your body and cause back pain. Avoid a backache by alternating hands occasionally.
Tip #6: Stores Bags of Topsoil and Mulch in a Dry Location
Rain-soaked bags of mulch or topsoil become much heavier and difficult to move. Keep the bags in a covered area to prevent them from becoming soaked by rain or your sprinkler system.
Tip #7: Let Your Equipment Handle the Heavy Work
Rearranging the potted plants on your deck, patio, or porch is much easier when you place the plants on rolling plant stands. Use a dolly, wheelbarrow, or a tractor to move heavier items.
Tip #8: Upgrade Your Mower
Mowing your lawn not only keeps grassy areas presentable but also qualifies as aerobic exercise. Unfortunately, pushing the mower may cause muscle tension, stiffness, or back spasms. If mowing consistently leaves you in pain, consider switching to a self-propelled or riding mower.
Tip #9: Bend and Stretch
You're more likely to suffer from muscle or joint pain if you remain in one position too long. Hunching over to weed the flower bed or stain the deck can cause aches and pains in your back and neck. Stand and stretch every 20 minutes to work out the kinks. We call these "micro-breaks," and recommend them whenever you're in the same position for a long period of time (like at your computer!).
Tip #10: Visit Ascend Chiropractic
Visiting your chiropractor can help you decrease back pain as well as learn how to decrease episodes from returning. Stiff joints and tight muscles are more likely to become injured during heavy lifting or tasks that require repetitive movements.
Chiropractic treatment including adjustments, Active Release Techniques, rehabilitation exercises, acupuncture, and other therapies improve spinal motion, relieve tight muscles, and restore more balanced body positioning; reducing your risk of back pain when you work in your yard.
Does your yard look beautiful but your back hurts? Give your Lincoln chiropractors a call!
Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Materials Handling: Heavy Lifting
Chiropractic Economics: Understand the Relationship Between Low Back Pain and the Feet, 10/14/16
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Low Back Pain Fact Sheet