Spring is in full swing here in Northern Virginia, and homeowners are out tackling their yard work to remove weeds, plant flowers, and even sow seeds for veggie gardens.
Working in the yard can be challenging yet rewarding, especially when you see the results of your labor. However, yard work is also a common cause of injury. Each year, over 140,000 people sustain injuries that lead them to seek emergency medical care just from cleaning up their yards.
The good news is that there are simple things you can do to minimize the chance of injury and keep your body strong. The following are our top dos and don’ts when cleaning up your yard to avoid back pain.
Do: Warm Up
Before putting on those gloves, grabbing your rake, and heading outside, take five minutes to warm up your muscles to avoid injury.
A warm-up isn’t anything strenuous. You can simply:
- Stretch your neck by tilting your head gently from side to side while keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- Gently swing your arms, keeping them loose, from side to side and then around, making circles.
- Standing with your feet apart and your arms held to your chest, gently twist your torso from side to side.
- While standing, bend one of your legs and grab the ankle with the arm on the same side. Do the same for the other side.
These are just a few stretches you can do to keep your body flexible and ready for demanding physical work.
Don’t: Bend Forward at the Waist
When bending over to pull a weed or pick up a pile of leaves, you may bend forward at your stomach, which puts your body into a tight “C” shape. However, this position should be avoided, especially if you already have lower back pain.
Bending at the waist can put pressure on the back, especially when lifting something heavy. Instead, keep your feet apart and your back straight. Then, bend at the knees and keep your weight on your hips while lowering yourself.
Do: Listen to Your Body
Our bodies are pretty good at telling us when something is wrong. If you are tired and feeling stiff after a few hours of work, take a break or quit for the day. Ignoring the signs that your body is fatigued or more susceptible to an injury or accident can lead to problems bigger than your weedy flower bed or the bags of mulch sitting in your driveway.
Don’t: Push Through Pain
If you are experiencing pain while doing work around the yard, don’t push through it. Pain is your body’s way of letting you know something isn’t right.
Ignoring pain and pushing through it can quickly lead to an injury. If you notice that you are in pain, whether it’s a dull ache or a sharp sensation, stop what you’re doing. You may need a break, to do a different task, or to rest for the day.
Do: Kneel or Use a Stool
Instead of maintaining a squatting or bent-over position when working on your lawn, kneel or use a stool. Doing so will help take the pressure off your back. If the ground is uncomfortable for your knees, there are plenty of garden kneeler products that help cushion knees while you work. You can always use a rolled-up towel if you don’t have a kneeler at home.
Don’t: Wear a Brace (Unless You’re Injured)
Unless you are injured, or your physician has instructed you to wear a brace, refrain from wearing one during yard work tasks. There’s a misconception that braces can prevent injuries, but in reality, they can weaken muscles over time, especially core muscles if you wear a back brace. Only wear a brace under the direction of your physician or physical therapist.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Worried about back, neck, hip, or joint pain after yard work? Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with Dr. Ward at Ward Chiropractic & Rehabilitation. Chiropractic care is a simple and drug-free way to treat and manage pain that can improve your mobility and quality of life so you can enjoy your yard all summer long!