Gardening and tending to yard work can be a fun activity, and actually quite beautiful when the colors change during the Maryland fall season. It can make you feel accomplished, connects you to nature and can be an incredible workout! But yard work can also be a huge pain in the neck… and back, shoulders and hips! If you are planning on tending to your yard and raking leaves this season, we recommend you keep on reading to prevent yard work injury!
There are two main reasons why yard work injury is so common.
- Yard work is full of repetitive movements: digging holes, raking leaves, shoveling snow, etc. These repetitive bending over, twisting and reaching movements can cause your muscles to become overworked and strained. When muscles become strained it is easy for your spine and hips to fall out of alignment – causing neck and back pain.
- According to Men’s Fitness Magazine, you can burn nearly 292 calories raking your leaves for one hour! What a great workout, right? Well, if you’re part of the 86% of American’s who work a sedentary job you’re more susceptible to yardwork injury than others. Many people jump right into raking the yard or shoveling the driveway without properly warming up, and yet are surprised when they injure themselves. So this brings us to our next point: how to prevent yard work injury!
To Prevent Yard Work Injury and Back Pain
Just as if you were about to work out or play a football game, we recommend you warm up to prevent yard work injury. If you take a few minutes to stretch out your legs, back, neck and shoulders ahead of time you can decrease your risk of injury. To prevent muscle strain and back pain caused by yard work injury, consider the following tips before you start:
- Stay hydrated before, during, and after yard work.
- If possible, plan your yard work during pleasant weather. Pick a cool and dry time. If it has just rained, you risk injury by slipping or falling.
- Wear supportive shoes with good arch support to prevent back injury.
- Bend at your knees, not your waist.
- Lift with your legs, not your back.
- If raking, create small piles rather than large to decrease the possibility of back strain. We also recommend using a “scissor stance” when raking (one leg forward and one leg behind) and switching up your lead leg every few minutes. This will ensure you are not putting excess work on one leg.
- Brace your core through each movement and exhale on the work.
Tips on Using Outdoor Equipment
Yard work equipment can be heavy and awkward to handle. Improper use of equipment like lawn mowers and snow blowers can result in back pain, neck pain, and serious muscular strain. So, whether you’re a professional landscaper or an average homeowner, we recommend following these tips for safely using outdoor equipment to prevent yard work injury:
- Take frequent breaks. We realize you might be tight on time to get your yard work done. But the time you take to rest during your work could be the time you save avoiding a trip to the doctor from yard work injury.
- When using equipment that requires you to push, like a lawn mower or snow blower, use your legs to drive it ahead of you. Avoid relying on your back to push.
- Alternate your sides frequently. Always make sure to switch the side you are working to maintain balance and avoid overworking one side.
Stretches for Before and After Yard Work
We’ve got you covered for warm up and cool down stretches to prevent yard work injury! Your hip flexors are made up of muscles on the anterior side of your legs, and your hamstrings are a part of your posterior chain. Lifting with your legs is rather than your back is so important, therefore stretching them out is too! Follow these stretches:
- Foam Roll the Hip Flexors
- Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
- Banded Quad Stretch
- Reclining Hip Flexor Stretch
Your thoracic spine helps with your mobility and rotation of your core. Check out these videos to stretch and mobilize your thoracic spine:
Chiropractic Care for Yard Work Injury
Like we noted earlier, a muscle strain can cause your spine and joints to fall out of alignment. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort after yard work a simple chiropractic adjustment could fix it all! Our gentle chiropractic adjustments will ease your spine and joints back into alignment for a drug-free painless treatment option!
It is our hopes that you now feel confident to take on your fall yard work, and you use the above tips to prevent back injury. However, if you find yourself with a yard work injury, click below to schedule your appointment today or call (410) 381-7246!