back-pain-1911009_640We are getting closer to spring, which means we will all be outside working in our yards.  Doing yard work can cause many mishaps, including back injuries. One of the most common complaints after a Saturday spent mowing, weeding, trimming and digging is, “Wow, my back is killing me!” Here are some things you can do to prevent or reduce back injuries while in the yard. Quick Tips:
  • Always use the proper tools. Using a hand trowel to dig a hole for a tree will increase your chance of a back or wrist injury. Choose tools with larger, padded or curved handles that are less strenuous to use over long periods of time. Look for protective gloves that have a nonslip surface for grip and to help prevent blisters.
  • Warm up. Do a little stretching before you begin. Stretch out your legs and back. Here is a link to a good routine:
  • Drink lots of water. Muscles need water to function optimally. When you maintain your body’s water levels during use, you allow your muscles to coordinate with each other properly and support your physical activity
  • Mix it up. Change activities every 25 to 45 minutes. While you are heading to the back yard stretch out while you are walking.
  • Lifting – When lifting bags of dirt, mulch or potted plants, keep your back straight and bend with your knees and hips (not your back) when reaching down
  • Take a break. Especially if it gets hot, you will need to rest every 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Mowing – Leaning forward as you push the lawn mower can strain your back. Be sure to maintain proper posture and push with your arms and legs instead of your back.
  • Weeding – Get on your knees when weeding. Don’t bend at the waist.
  • Raking – When raking, switch sides every so often. Switching sides will even out muscle use.
  • Wear shoes that are designed for yard work and are comfortable.
  • Weather – Don’t work in the yard on the hottest day of the year. During the summer, work in the yard in early morning or evening when the temperature is lower.
  • Setting out lawn and patio furniture often requires a bit of heavy lifting. Whenever possible, grab an extra set of hands to help with awkward or heavy items.
  • Pruning hedges- Don’t overextend your arms when pruning. When trimming back bushes, keep the sheers close to your body and try to keep your shoulders at or below ninety degrees of elevation.
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