While a painful back may be a common result after a day of yard work, there are some easy ways to help prevent this. Knowing the problems that yard work can cause can help you avoid harmful actions. Small changes, like performing exercises for lower back pain beforehand, or altering the way you perform specific tasks, will make a big difference. Try the following tips to help.
1. Strengthen core
Building up your core strength means your muscles can support you as you work. There will be less pressure placed on your spine. Stronger muscles are also less likely to feel strain from repetitive work. Regular exercises and stretches will assist with this.
2. Warm up beforehand
Before beginning your yard work, start with a few warm-up stretches. You will be exerting yourself, just as you would if you were taking part in a sport. Dynamic stretches can help warm up your upper and lower back muscles. A short walk can also help loosen you up before you start working.
3. Keep good posture
It is vital to maintain good posture as you work. Yard work involves movements like bending, reaching, and twisting. Any time you move or stand still, your spine should be aligned with the rest of your body. Do not slump and try to keep your back straight and relaxed.
4. Use your knees
If you need to carry something heavy, do not bend your spine to pick it up. Bend your knees instead and take the weight on your legs instead of your back. When putting the item down again, perform the same movements, bending your knees, and keeping your back straight.
For a ground activity such as weeding, kneeling can be much better for your back than stooping or bending over. You can purchase a kneeling mat or use a cushion to prevent pain in the knees. Kneeling with one leg on the ground can give you better support, taking the pressure off your back.
6. Use a stool
If you are working in a small area for a while, perhaps tending to a bed or weeding, try using a stool or bench. This may not be suited to everyone, as some may have back conditions that make sitting uncomfortable. However, if suitable, it can prevent you from having to bend over.
7. Stay hydrated
If you become dehydrated, your muscles may be more likely to feel the strain. As many people work in their yards during warm weather, it is important to ensure you drink plenty of water.
8. Vary tasks
Performing the same task repetitively can cause strain in your back, even if you are trying to keep good posture. Make a list of tasks that involve different types of movements and vary them throughout your work.
9. Alternate sides
If you are using one side of your body more than another, you may place asymmetrical pressure on your back, causing pain. Alternate sides throughout the task. For example, you can switch hands while raking. If kneeling with one knee up, swap legs half-way through the work. Otherwise, you may find lower right or lower left back pain develops.
10. Avoid reaching
Reaching over can place strain on your back, especially if you are supporting some weight. Instead of keeping your feet still and stretching your back and arms forward, try taking small steps. This can be useful for tasks such as mowing or raking.
11. Pivot when turning
Twisting can strain the spine and back muscles. Instead of twisting your spine to reach over for something, pivot instead. This means turning your whole body, moving your feet as well as your back.
12. Take breaks
Try to switch tasks frequently, every 20 minutes to half an hour. Even if you are unable to switch tasks, you should take a break at these points. It is important to check in with your body and determine whether you are feeling strain in any areas. Perform a few gentle stretches to prevent stiffness.