Putting in hard work in the yard

Image thanks to Matthias v.d. Elbe

It's beautiful outside! The leaves are changing colour, the temperature has calmed down, and it's bonfire season!

While there is a ton of beauty to enjoy in the fall, it also brings a lot of yard work. Whether it's raking, fertilizing or winterizing the garden, these activities can push a sore back over the edge. Here are a few simple tips to help you enjoy these activities pain free.

1) When you are raking leaves. Keep your strokes short. This makes sure that you are not over using your core and low back. If you have some history of back pain, it's likely because your low back is already doing too much work. We want to make sure that your legs can do more of the lifting and pushing around.

2) Use your legs when moving bags of fertilizer of leaves. You've probably heard this advice 1000 times, but nobody has every showed you how to do that. I've found that the easiest way to lift with your legs and not your back is to keep the knees bent for as long as possible. If you straighten your knees too quick, all the force goes into your low back which can lead to soreness or pain.

3) Winterizing the garden can mean spending a lot of time in one position. The easiest way to avoid that is to set a timer for 20-30 minutes. When the timer goes off, you can stand up and stretch for a moment. After you finish stretching, you can re-set the timer and go right back to the garden.

4) And finally, listen to your body! Don't be afraid to take breaks. Whether it's for water or rest, breaks are important! As you work in the yard you need to hydrate to make up for the lost fluids from sweating. Rest is important because it helps you keep track of your energy levels.

If your pain levels are increasing, stop what you are doing, think about how you are doing it and the posture you are using. If you are not able to find a way to do it with minimal levels of discomfort, you can finish this another day! Let your therapist know about it the next time you see them.

Now get out there and enjoy the fall weather before the snow starts to fall!

Byron  Lam

Byron Lam

Chiropractor, CCSP®, FR® Spine

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