Spring is finally here in the Cleveland area! And with the arrival of spring that means it’s the season to be working on your yard! Whether you enjoy gardening or are working in your yard pruning bushes, trees, taking care of weeds and performing an outdoor spring cleaning, you are familiar with how physical it can be. Preventing and managing pain when it comes to outdoor work is as important as selecting the right seeds and tools to get the job done.
Four tips to reduce or prevent pain when gardening and doing yard work:
1. Warm up before your activity, move around and stretch!
Most people spend a lot of time on their knees or hunched over when gardening. You’ll need to protect yourself by stretching and warming up these muscles beforehand. For your knees, you’ll want to focus on stretching your quadriceps (front of your thigh) and your hamstrings (back of your thighs). Stretching can be different for everyone, so find positions that are safe for your level. For most people, standing in a scissored stance with your feet a comfortable distance apart should stretch both of these areas. Remember to switch your forward foot to stretch both sides.
Use a knee pad or kneeling cushions to protect from knee pain, injury and stress.
Prevent back pain while gardening or working in the yard:
2. Avoid back pain by taking breaks to stretch, breathe and hydrate.
Take a step back and admire the work that you’ve completed! Give your muscles a break and make sure to stretch before starting again. For most people, standing straight and leaning backwards will be a comfortable way to loosen the lower back. It’s also important to take this time to hydrate and take a break from the sun. So switch out that cup of coffee with a more hydrating lemon water while working in the yard.
3. Prevent back injury: Know your limits of what you can lift and carry.
We're all guilty of it - carrying more than we should to save on the number of trips. Thank of those bags of mulch, that large tree you planted in the back or all those sacks of garden soil. Although we may have gotten away with it when our bodies were younger, as we age, or if we lead more sedentary lifestyles, carrying more than we should can cause serious back pain that can sideline us for the rest of the weekend or more. When in doubt, use equipment like a wheelbarrow to do the heavy work. If you do lift, make sure to lift from your legs and not your back!
4. Vary tasks in the garden, switching-up activities, to avoid back and neck pain.
Changing your tasks in the yard or garden frequently will prevent an overuse of muscle groups for an extended period of time. For example, if you've been on your knees planting for a half-hour, make your next activity one that allows you to stand.
Gardening and yard work should be a fun activity! Take your time, enjoy the outdoors and enjoy your yard or garden! If you feel aches and pains from working in the yard this year, the Chiropractor, Physical Therapist and Massage Therapist at Superior Spine Care will help. Contact us to schedule an appointment to address aches and pains you may have incurred from yard work and learn techniques and exercises you can do to enjoy the outdoors this season without more aches and pains.