While back injuries come in all shapes and sizes, some of the most common ailments chiropractors treat are the result of everyday activities, including yard work. When you go outside to rake leaves, pull weeds or clear out the storm gutters, you probably think to throw on a high SPF sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun and a pair of shades to keep your eyes safe from Ultraviolet rays. While both of these actions are necessary and a great way to prevent cancer, when was the last time you thought about protecting your back from the constant stooping, squatting and reaching often involved in completing yard work?
Yard work can cause a number of different musculo-skeltal complications. Upper and lower back pain and neck and shoulder strain are just a few of them. By being conscious of your actions, and with a little bit of preparation in advance, you can avoid causing back injuries while you enjoy working in your yard. Use these tips to keep your back in top shape the next time you go outside to work in the yard.
Warm Up – While you may think warming up is for athletes, it’s an excellent way to prevent back injuries while doing yard work as well. Before you pick up the rake and shovel, take a few minutes to complete a series of stretching exercises to loosen up your muscles. Trunk rotations, side-bends and chest-to-knee pulls will target the muscles you are most likely to use while working in the yard.
Practice Good Posture – Whether you’re raking up leaves or shoveling the driveway, keep your back straight and be conscious of your posture. Bad posture is hard on your muscles, and can lead to aches, pains and muscle strain if you constantly slouch while you’re outside.
Lift With Your Knees – When you go to pick up bags of leaves or trash barrels, make sure you life with your legs and knees and not with your back. Do not bend over to grab the items, instead, crouch down, support yourself, grab and lift.
Take Breaks – If you start to feel pain in any part of your body, stop immediately and take a break. Trying to work through muscle pain can make the problem worse. You may find yourself fatiguing quickly when working outdoors in the summer, so take frequent breaks to rehydrate with a cool glass of water before getting back to work.
Use Ergonomic Tools – Many yard care companies make tools that are specifically designed to be back-friendly. Invest in some high quality, ergonomic gardening tools such as a thick gardening cushion or tools with large, padded handles. Using tools that are designed to minimize stress on your shoulders, neck, back and knees will reduce the risk of hurting yourself while working outdoors.
Change Tasks Regularly – Focusing for long periods of time on one specific activity can overwork the muscles needed to complete that task. Frequently change up what you are working on to utilize a new set of muscles and give the old set a rest. Changing tasks every so often will also make time go by faster and prevent you from becoming bored with your work.
After Work – Once you are done working in the yard, assess how you are feeling. Pay attention to any areas that feel sore for hours after you have headed inside for the day. You can minimize aches and pains with an ice pack, but if the pain does not subside overnight consider visiting a chiropractor.
If you’ve been hurt doing yard work, lifting something heavy, or have pain as the result of a car accident injury in Scottsdale, AZ, please take the time to visit with Bluestone Chiropractic, chiropractor offices with multiple locations Valley-wide.