It’s that time of year! Leaves, gardening, tree trimming, you name it. As the seasons are cyclical, so is the stress we put on our spine and body. Let me help you keep your spine safe and functioning optimally during those long beautiful yard work days this spring and beyond. Prevention is the best approach! So before you rev up the lawnmower or reach for your rake this spring, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) cautions you to consider the possible consequences: upper or lower back strain, neck strain and pain in the shoulders. Just as playing football or golf can injure your body, the twisting, turning, bending and reaching of mowing and raking can also cause injury if your body is unprepared. Like an athlete, if you leap into something without warming up or knowing how to do it properly, the chances of injury increase. So before you begin be sure to warm up and while your doing the yard work be sure to work smarter not harder.
Before you begin any extended periods of outdoor work (more than 30 minutes) prepare with a five- to 10-minute warm up. A combination of slow, bigger body movements and stretching is a great start. Some simple yet very effective tools for you include body squats, hamstring stretches, shoulder exercises (and another one here), and spine rotation for the back.
Tips for Working Outside:
Wear supportive shoes. Good foot and arch support can prevent some back strain.
Stand as straight as possible, and keep your head up as you rake or mow.
When it's still warm outside, avoid the heat. If you're a morning person, get the work done before 10 a.m. Otherwise, do your chores after 6 p.m.
When raking, use a "scissors" stance: right foot forward and left foot back for a few minutes, then reverse, putting your left foot forward and right foot back.
Bend at the knees, not the waist, as you pick up yard equipment or piles of leaves or grass from the grass catcher. Make the piles small to decrease the possibility of back strain.
Wear a hat, shoes and protective glasses. To avoid blisters, try wearing gloves. If you have asthma or allergies, wear a mask.
Wear Sunscreen of at least SPF 15 or higher
Drink lots of water before and after your work.
Come on by for an Adjustment:
Being able to perform these daily activities of living require that your spine is as healthy as possible. If you wish to not have significant repercussions after the fact, your spinal joints must move as fluidly through their full range of motion for optimal flexibility, mobility and nervous system communication. Chiropractic adjustments provide proper spinal joint motion that helps lead to increased flexibility, mobility, proper muscle activity and nervous system communication. The chiropractic adjustment is a weapon in your arsenal. Use it. Ideally, get your spine checked and adjusted prior to and after your long stints of yard work weekends! Weekly adjustments help ensure that you’re almost always in optimal condition for work and play.