Prevent Back Injury While Doing Yard Work
Sometimes a sporting injury isn’t the only way you can injure your back. If you’re a homeowner, outdoor tasks such as raking, gardening, mowing, and mulching can cause unnecessary back strain if you aren’t careful. As they always say, it’s better to work smarter than harder! The tips below help you prevent the possibility of receiving a back injury while doing yard work.
Supportive Shoes and Warming Up
As with any physical activity, it’s very important to wear the right shoes. With yard work, it’s best to wear supportive shoes that offer good foot and arch support. The proper shoes stabilize the position of your feet, which directly improves your gait and posture. Good posture means no muscle strain since everything is kept in alignment, allowing all your muscles, bones, and joints to work together safely and efficiently. Additionally, warming up with stretches or light exercise before doing any yard work helps prevent back injury. A brisk five to ten-minute walk, arm stretches, walking lunges or jumping jacks are all beneficial and recommended.
Bending, Lifting, and Leaning
Gardening puts extra strain on your back since your body is bent at the waist. And even if you’re not fully bent at the waist, some people tend to hunch over their work instead. To combat back muscle strain, kneel on a rubber mat, sit on a gardening stool or directly on the ground, and make sure to have your gardening tools within reach. When lifting bags of mulch or potting soil, always make sure that your back stays straight and that you are lifting with your knees and hips. And never lift more than you can handle in one go! Using pushing machines such as mowers or lawn edgers causes you to lean. This disrupts the correct alignment in your back. Keep your back as straight as a board, if possible! Push the machinery carefully with your arms and legs.
Stay Hydrated and Take Breaks!
Your muscles need water to function. So just as an athlete would drink lots of water during a big game, you need to replenish the water you lose through sweat too. Keeping your muscles adequately supplied with water prevents the possibility of experiencing spasms, muscle cramps, and dehydration (which can become serious and in some cases requires hospitalization). Don’t be afraid to take breaks if you need them! Not everyone is on the same physical fitness level, some people need more breaks than others and that’s okay. Taking breaks rather than forcing your body to keep doing strenuous work prevents not only back injury but other injuries. These could come on due to exhaustion and not being as aware of your surroundings.