Every year when winter is over and spring has sprung, we all get excited to head outside, clean up our yards and plant brightly-colored flowers. That pop of color really helps drive away winter-related depression and gives up hope for the future. However, after all our hours spent watching TV on those cold winter nights, rushing out to garden can sometimes lead to injury. Drs. George and Stefanie Olar of 360 Chiropractic in Lacey want to help you get outside safely with these helpful tips to avoid injury while doing yard work.
“If you enjoy working on the lawn and garden this time of year, you also know how easy it is to overdo it,” says Dr. George. “Tackle your spring yard work with some chiropractic guidance in mind so you can get through the job without back pain.”
No one wants to have to quit planting or raking because of back pain. And you definitely don’t want to have to miss work on Monday because of yard work done on Sunday. “The American Chiropractic Association warns us that the repetitive motions that the body uses with lawn equipment can trigger muscle strains and tears, back and neck pain,” shares Dr. Stefanie. Especially since you probably haven’t made most of these motions since last summer, and for those of us in the Pacific Northwest, that equates to about seven months ago! You wouldn’t go run a marathon after seven months off, think of your yard work as the same thing. You need to ease back into it to avoid injury.
360 Chiropractic’s Helpful Tips to Avoid a Yard Work Injury
- Do some warm up and cool down stretches before and after yard work! Think of yard work as a form of exercise, proper warm up and cool down can help you avoid injury. What are some good stretches? Target areas you are going to be using, like your arms, legs and core:
- Stand tall and lift arms straight above your head reaching for the sky. Bend towards the ground. Repeat two or three times.
- Wrap your arms around yourself after letting your breath out and rotate side to side. Hold it for 10 seconds. Then reverse and repeat two or three times.
- Sit on a flat mat with your knees stretched out in front of you. Then bend forward reaching for your toes in a slow easy stretch.
Weed whacking, shoveling and raking may be necessary, but they don’t have to take forever, remember to take breaks and switch hands often so all weight is not placed on the same side of the body causing discomfort. Just like with working out, you want to keep your body even by doing everything on both sides!
- Use helpful tools like garden carts, benches and kneeling pads to ease discomfort.
- Use protective gear like hats, glasses, and/or hearing protection if using loud equipment. If you have asthma or allergies, wear a mask!
- Choose proper footwear! Worn out shoes or old sandals shouldn’t be used. Keep those feet comfortable using stable shoes with good arch support so that feet, legs and back pain don’t set in. Flimsy shoes could also run you the risk of falling. Need some new support? 360 Chiropractic offers custom orthotics that can take the pain out of everyday walking.
- Space out tasks. Too many people try to complete all their yard work at once, but that is hard on the body. It’s better to space out tasks, crossing them off a list one at a time. As an example, work for half an hour and then take a break, drink some water and sit for a bit. This helps to prevent pain and fatigue.
- When you pick up or put down equipment bend from the knees, not the waist.
- When you lift equipment, keep it close to the body.
- When mowing, use your whole body to push the mower, rather than just your arms and back. A self-propelled mower can really help save your back as well.
What To Do if You Feel Pain
Even if you stretch and take it easy, sometimes things happen. You twist too much while lifting. You don’t have your leg under you quite right when getting up from the ground. You pull that rake one time too many. The first thing you should do, is stop work for the day! “If you experience pain or discomfort following yard work, contact a doctor of chiropractic,” advises Dr. George. “Chiropractors are trained and licensed to treat the musculoskeletal system and can also help you lead a healthier lifestyle by focusing on wellness and prevention.”
At 360 Chiropractic, they offer chiropractic adjustments, laser and massage therapy to help heal you quickly so you can get back outside to enjoy those sunny spring days—when we have them. Visit the 360 Chiropractic website for more information.
5101 Lacey Boulevard SE, Lacey