Staying active is an important part of maintaining the health of your spinal column and vertebrae, and yard work can be a great form of exercise. For some people, it’s a chore. For others, it’s a soothing hobby. No matter how you think of yard work, though, it can be a strenuous activity that must be performed with proper care and preparation. To do otherwise is to risk injury.
Avoid That Aching Back
Think about the physical action necessary to rake the autumn leaves, trim an overgrown hedge or even mow a small patch of lawn. Now, think about how important your back muscles are as you perform those tasks. The spinal column and vertebrae are involved in nearly every movement you make, and this is especially true for repetitive physical activities like yard work. Here are a few steps you can take to protect your back when it’s time to tackle the lawn or garden:
- Perform a five-minute warm-up – nothing too strenuous; a few back and joint stretches should suffice
- Always use your legs to lift heavy objects – you’ve heard this before, no doubt, but it is good advice; bend your knees and keep your spine straight, and never lean forward to pick up something heavy
- Kneel, rather than bend over – this is particularly important if the job involves using a spade to dig or hand trimmers to edge a sidewalk for more than a few seconds
- Alternate chores – instead of raking for hours on end, rake for a few minutes, then mow the lawn or prune the shrubbery; this uses different muscle groups and places less repetitive stress on the back
What to Do When Back Pain Develops
If you do feel a twinge or ache within the spinal column and suspect your vertebrae may be affected, stop working and begin to monitor your back or neck pain. If it doesn’t go away, there’s a chance it might be something more serious than a muscle strain or ligament sprain and you should visit your physician for a diagnosis. Chronic pain might require prescription medication or a course of physical therapy. If surgery becomes an option, contact Laser Spine Institute (LSI) to learn how a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed using advanced endoscopic techniques can help you rediscover a life without pain.