Spring has finally come to mid-Michigan. Is your back ready for yard work and gardening season? The yard and garden is where people of all ages and fitness levels go to show their green thumb and their ability to produce beautiful plants, veggies, fruits and landscaping. As with all increased physical activity there is always a chance of injury.
Most people see gardening and yard work as their time to get away from the fast-paced world that we all live in, without realizing the strain and stress that it can put on the body. These outdoor activities can cause strain on your back, legs, neck and arms due to improper body mechanics while digging, planting, weeding, mulching, raking and lifting.
Follow these tips for a successful year of gardening and yard work:
- Always start with a warm-up, go for a brisk walk to warm up your muscles so they are ready to do the work. Follow that with 5-10 minutes of stretching of your back, legs and arms.
- Drink plenty of water.
- If you have to lift heavy objects such as bricks, mulch or bags of dirt you are going to want squat down to pick them up as though you are sitting in an imaginary chair. You have to stick your bottom out and bend from knees and hips and not from your back.
- If you have to kneel put one foot on the ground and your opposite knee down on a soft surface. You will decrease strain on your back in this position.
- Don’t try to be Superman. Make more trips when carrying objects and hold them close to your body.
- Your wheelbarrow or garden trailer is your best friend. Use them whenever you have to unload the truck or car.
- Having a strong core will go a long ways toward helping your back through the season. You have to tighten your tummy before you lift and not after you have that rock six inches off the ground. Also don’t bend forward and twist at the same time. Always move your feet, so you are squared up to the object before you lift it.
- Once all your hard work is finally done and your green thumb is exhausted you need to take the time to stretch again and continue to drink water.
If you do have any pain, contact the physical therapy team at Paramount Rehabilitation Services.