By: Guest Author
Published: October 16, 2019
Written by Dr. Brent Wells – Guest Contributor
If you spend a lot of time working outside in your garden, you might notice that your back starts to ache after a while. Between hunching over for long periods of time and lots of intense lifting and pulling, you can put a lot of strain on this area of the body.
There are things you can do both during and after yard work that will reduce the amount of strain on your muscles and joints and keep the area from aching. Here are some chiropractic-approved tips to reduce the strain and feel more comfortable.
Be aware of your posture
One of the keys to preventing backache is to be aware of your posture as you are raking, mowing, planting, or doing anything else in the yard. Your head is one of the heaviest parts of your body, so when you have your shoulders and neck bent forward, your head can actually pull on your back, so to speak.
This puts strain on the back that can lead to chronic pain. Instead, think about lifting your head up towards the sky while you are doing yard work, while keeping your shoulders back and down. It may take some practice, but you will find that with time, this stance becomes second nature.
Bend at the knees
Your first reaction when you drop something might be to bend at the waist to pick it up. However, this can put extra strain on your lower back as well, particularly if you don’t have much flexibility in your back and legs.
To prevent this added muscle strain, bend with your knees when you need to pick something up or do work on the floor of your yard. This allows your legs to absorb the strain of bending over, and gives you more total body control.
Wear supportive shoes
Another key to preventing chronic pain of any kind is to wear supportive shoes. Since your feet support your entire body, keeping them comfortable will prevent damage to the rest of your body as well.
Good arch support minimizes the impact on your spine when you walk, run, or lift, so you are reducing your chances of developing an overuse back injury. They can also improve your posture, which will reduce back pain.
Switch sides when using tools for a long time
If you are using a tool for a long time or doing something that involves a lot of repetitive motion, be sure to switch sides as you are working. If you are only using one arm or one leg over and over again, it could result in a muscle imbalance that causes a backache.
Be sure to switch up your stance when you are standing for a long time as well. Start with one leg in front, and then switch to the other every so often. This will help you balance your weight so that you’re not putting too much pressure on one side of your body.
Follow safety standards when mowing
When using a lawnmower or other outdoor maintenance tools, it’s very important that you adhere to the safety standards put out by the manufacturer.
If your appliances come with a safety strap, be sure to wear it – this actually helps keep your weight balanced while you are mowing your lawn. You should also make sure to read your owner’s manual and stick to any other safety recommendations to prevent injury.
Take regular breaks
When you’re doing intense outdoor work, it’s important to take short breaks throughout the day so that your body can rest and recover. Stop to eat a snack, stretch your muscles, and just take a few deep breaths.
If you over-exert yourself, you are much more likely to experience an injury. It’s extremely important that you stop if you start to feel a sharp pain, or if you start to feel deeply fatigued. This is your body’s way of telling you to stop so that you can avoid injury.
Drink lots of water
When you’re outside in the sun, your body can become dehydrated very quickly. When your body is dehydrated, it’s much more difficult for your muscles to recover from damage. You’ll also find that you lose energy more quickly, so you’re more likely to make silly mistakes.
Keep a water bottle with you while you are outside, and be sure to go indoors to refill it when you run out. Make your water as convenient as possible to access so you stay hydrated.
Stretch out after you work
When you’re working hard and putting a lot of strain on your back, you can end up with knots or tightness in strange places. Doing some full-body stretching or even a yoga session can help you relax and prevent soreness the next day.
Be sure to stretch out not only your lower back, but also your core, arms, and legs. Taking even five minutes to stretch can make a big difference in how you feel the next day.
Roll out your back
If you don’t already have a foam roller at home, it’s worth investing in one. They are a very affordable tool that you can use to massage your body on your own. After you’re done with a long session of yard work, lay on top of your foam roller and gently move back and forth, bearing down on the roller to apply some pressure.
While it may feel a bit uncomfortable, it will reduce your soreness the next day. You should also take time to roll out any other areas of your body where you are worried about experiencing soreness, like calves and thighs.
Visit your chiropractor regularly
If you spend a lot of time working in the yard, regular chiropractor visits could be a great investment for you. Chiropractic adjustments will release the tension that builds up in your spine and the surrounding muscles. They’ll also improve your alignment, which prevents future chronic pain.
A chiropractor will even give you personalized stretches and other techniques you can use to prevent injuries.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells is the author of over 700+ online articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. These articles include various types of information about how you can live a healthy and happy life. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998. Dr. Wells has been a chiropractor for over 20 years and has treated thousands of patients who suffer from varying problems. He continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.
The views expressed herein this article, written by a guest contributor, do not necessarily represent those of the Red Hot Mamas organization. The content is for informational purposes and should not substitute the advice of your doctor.