With the arrival of Spring and Summer just around the corner, yard work is a chore that will be done more commonly now that the weather is getting warm again. Although some enjoy yard work, to most people it may be a pain, literally, in the back. With repetitive motions of bending over, carrying heavy pots and planters, and twisting motions, many of those suffer from back pain after doing yard work. These repetitive motions cause stress and strain on the muscles, ligaments, and joints within the body, but most commonly the lower back.
One reason the lower back is one of the most commonly sore parts of the body, is that our core muscles are not adequate for doing such repetitive moves. When our core is not engaged or strong enough, or lower back muscles overcompensate for the muscles in our abdomen. Regularly working your core and adding in more physical activity overall can help with this issue. Another way to help reduce lower back pain is to make sure your core is engaged while bending, twisting, and lifting heavy objects. Before you participate in any of these actions, be sure to breathe out, and tighten the muscles in your stomach. They should remain tightened throughout the entire activity. For example, before you pick up that heavy planter and move it, you should engage your core and keep it engaged until the planter is moved. Engaging your core will help take some of the strain off of your lower back muscles.
Another way to reduce back pain during, and after, yard work is to maintain proper body mechanics while lifting and bending over. If you need to lift heavy objects such as bags of soil, be sure to lift with your legs and not your back. To do this, you should get as close as possible to the object you need to lift. Then, you should position your feet shoulder-width apart. When you bend to pick up the item, bend your knees, not at your waist. During this bending, you should be sure that your back is straight and your legs are making a 90-degree angle at the bend of your knee. After you get ahold of the object, push straight up, using your leg muscles. After you have picked the item up, you should hold it at waist-level as close to your body as possible. As always, be sure that your core is engaged during the lifting motion as well. As for bending, you should always make sure to keep your back straight and bend at your hips and knees, not your waist.
In addition to proper body mechanics, there are ways to reduce these repetitive motions and cause less strain on your back while doing yard work. The first thing you should do is to make sure that frequently used tools such as a shears and shovels, at a good distance in front of you so that you are not twisting or bending backwards to pick them up. If you are raking or moving heavy objects, wheelbarrows and wagons are good tools to utilize so that you are not carrying heavy objects too frequently.
As always, be sure to wear supportive shoes and try not to do yard work when in extreme heat or cold. Know your limits when you participate in manual-labors such as yard work. You should be sure to drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks as well. If possible, try to span your yard work out over more than one day, so that you are spending less time at once straining your muscles. If you can’t span the yard work out over more than one day, try to do some yard work in the early morning and then again in the evenings. Be sure to rest and relax between sessions. It is always a good idea to grab some help, too. Maybe a friend or neighbor who enjoys doing yard work would be willing to help. Just remember to keep your back straight, bend at the knees, rest, stay hydrated, and have fun while doing yard work.
If you do injure yourself while doing yard work, or suffer from back pain, give us a call. 816-584-044. We look forward to speaking with you.