With warmer weather, many homeowners start spending more time outside taking care of yard work and revitalizing the garden. Whether you love it or hate it, yard work can’t be avoided in the spring and summer months. Time spent on your knees bent over weeding flower beds and taking on other outdoor tasks can take a toll on your body.
Everyday activities, including mowing, digging, planting, weeding, mulching, and raking, can cause stress and strain on muscles and joints. Lower back pain is a common problem for many gardeners.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
The back, neck, shoulders, and knees are the most prone to injury with gardening and other lawn care maintenance activities. Bending, stooping, kneeling, lifting heavy materials, and repetitive movements put increased stress and strain on joints and can cause inflammation and pain.
Just like any other physical activity, yard work requires the right techniques and preparation to minimize the risk of strain and pain. The following tips can help minimize the aches and pains associated with gardening and yard work:
The best way to prevent injury is to keep your back muscles strong and flexible. Stretching makes your body more flexible and decreases the risk of injury. Doing a few basic stretching exercises before you begin to work in the yard can be helpful. A brisk walk stretches the spine and limbs and is an easy way to limber up. Even a 5-minute walk can be beneficial.
2. Stay Hydrated
It’s important to stay hydrated for all physical activities, including yard work. Drink plenty of water, especially when mowing, weed eating, or raking leaves for an extended time. Proper hydration helps prevent muscle cramps and spasms and keeps your muscles functioning correctly.
3. Let Your Equipment Handle the Heavy Work
Moving or rearranging potted plants is much easier when you place the pots on rolling plant stands. If you need to move heavy materials such as bags of mulch, topsoil, or rocks, use a wheelbarrow or cart to decrease stress on joints.
4. Lift the Correct Way
Yard work requires a lot of bending and lifting, making the proper technique and posture critical. Instead of bending at the waist, use your legs. These large muscles can handle the job, and using them can help prevent back strain. Focus on your knees and hips when bending or lifting heavy objects. Have a partner help lift and carry heavy items rather than trying to do it on your own.
5. Stand and Stretch Frequently
You’re more likely to develop muscle or joint pain if you remain in one position for an extended period. Bending over to weed the flower bed or stain the deck causes neck and back pain. Stand and stretch at least every 20 minutes to release the kinks. These small breaks are recommended whenever you’re in the same position for a long time, whether indoors or outdoors.
6. Practice Proper Posture
Good posture is key to preventing pain, injuries, and other health problems. Your spine is designed to have a natural curvature with neutral alignment. Neutral alignment means your spine stays in a straight line, and you are not looking down or up for an extended time. A neutral position places your neck and back under the least amount of stress and strain, allowing them to function properly without pain. Planting or weeding in a half-kneeling position or while sitting on a garden stool helps ensure proper alignment.
7. Take Frequent Breaks
People sometimes hurt themselves in a rush to complete lawn and gardening tasks. Taking plenty of time makes it less likely for injuries or accidents to occur. A few occasional breaks give your muscles time to relax and allow you to drink some water. Pushing yourself too hard leads to poor posture and lifting techniques, leading to a potential back injury.
8. Invest in High-Quality Ergonomic Tools
It’s essential to have the right tools for the job, and they should be sized to fit your body. If a rake is too short, you will have to bend over too much. If a shovel handle is too long, you’ll have difficulty digging, leading to poor movement patterns and pain. There are many ergonomic tools on the market that are designed to help keep your body in alignment and prevent back pain. It’s essential to try them out at your local hardware store to make sure they fit your hands and body.
9. Know When to Stop
If you have a lot of outdoor work to do, consider spreading it out over several days. Spending all day doing repetitive tasks is never a good idea. Muscle fatigue typically occurs after about 30 minutes of repetitive activity. It’s important to listen to your body and take frequent breaks. Spreading out manual labor over several weekends will help avoid over-stressing your muscles.
10. Change the Way You Garden
If you have chronic back pain, there are options that allow you to garden but in a much less painful way. Investing in raised beds allows you to stand or sit while tending to your plants. Trying out vertical gardening is a creative way to stand and work at eye level rather than bending or kneeling.
Visit A Chiropractor
Working outdoors in nature can be a great way to reduce stress while beautifying your property. If you continue to experience lower back pain despite following these tips, chiropractic care can help. Regular visits with an experienced chiropractor can help decrease back pain and help you learn how to prevent pain from returning. Chiropractic treatments, including adjustments, exercises, acupuncture, and other therapies, improve spinal motion, relieve tight muscles, and improve posture, reducing your risk of back pain no matter what outdoor activities you engage in over the summer.
Schedule Your Appointment Today
If you’re experiencing muscle pain because of gardening or lawn work, a chiropractor has several methods to help reduce the inflammation and pain. If you are suffering from back, neck, or shoulder pain, regular chiropractic care can decrease pain, improve mobility, and restore your health.
If you’re ready to take the next step in achieving relief and overall wellness, contact the team at The Bluffs Chiropractic & Family Wellness today. Dr. Joshua Lippincott has been serving patients for over 12 years and is passionate about helping people achieve their best possible health. Contact us online or call (636) 326-2525 to schedule your initial consultation.