Springtime Yardwork: Tips for Keeping Your Back Healthy

It’s that time of year again when homeowners across the country have to break out the lawn mower, electric trimmer, and other tools of the yardwork trade. Before you get out there and start making your lawn a place to be proud of, consider the following tips that can keep you from a stiff back the next morning.

Preparing Before-Hand

It’s never a good idea to get up from the couch, the breakfast table, or even straight out of bed and start using muscles you are not used to using. That’s a good way to strain or pull something. Before you start pushing that mower around or get down on your knees to pull weeds, be sure to do some stretching and a light warm up.

Avoiding a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

Besides just using muscles you don’t activate on a daily basis, yardwork may cause you to make the same awkward motion over and over again. Whether it is using an electric trimmer, a pair of loppers, or a garden rake, repeating the same motion in this fashion can lead to a repetitive strain injury. A good solution is to have a couple of projects going on at the same time. For example, start by trimming a few bushes, but then work on the garden a little before going back to the rest. 

Also, switch sides when possible. For example, you may want to hold the trimmer on your right side for a time and then switch to the left. This keeps your muscles on one side from having to work harder than on the other.

Proper Rest and Hydration Are Key

You are far more likely to get injured if you are overtired or dehydrated. Make sure to take breaks and drink plenty of fluids. Water is the best, but coconut water can be a good substitute. Use sports drinks sparingly if you are not going to be out there sweating a lot, but they are great for a long day working in the sun.

Additional Tips:

  • For big jobs, use electric or gas powered equipment rather than manually operated and let the machine do more of the work for you.
  • When lifting heavy equipment, be sure to bend at the knees and never at the waist.
  • Wear knee pads if you will be on your knees for a long time such as when gardening.

The goal, of course, is to keep you injury free, so you can enjoy your spring. If you ever do suffer an injury, however, Dr. Ward is available with same day appointments to help minimize the pain.