Did you hear the one about the guy who pulled out his back cleaning his gutters? Yeah, it’s not a funny joke. If you don’t follow a regular exercise routine, yard clean up can be stressful on your joints, muscles and tendons. Don’t hire a landscaper yet-
I have some helpful tips that will protect your back and your wallet. If you approach any outdoor yard work like a game or a sport (or some actually enjoyable activity), the chance of injury will be reduced. While good mechanics will protect you, a good dynamic warm up of the big muscles (shoulders, back, buttocks, thighs) will help reduce your likelihood of injury.
Ladders and Gutters: Please take the time to move the ladder along frequently rather than stretching out too far to ‘save time’. Obviously, you can fall, which will send you to the ER, not here. Aside from avoiding a viral video of a tremendous fall, you will also minimize a back, neck or shoulder strain.
Raking and Bagging Leaves: Minimize the forward bending of your low back as much as you can. Try and imagine you are sitting down and pulling the rake into your body, rather than reaching with your arms and pulling with your back. Keep your arms close to your body when lifting or pulling. The farther the arms reach, the greater the load on your lower back.
Shoveling snow: Snow is tricky, sometimes it is light and fluffy, other times it is cement. Take less weight on your shovel and as raking above keep you arms in close. Think of your lower back as the pivot point on a see saw. The more weight away from your body, the greater the strain on the pivot.
Best advice? Give yourself plenty of time and perform some dynamic warm up exercises to prime your body for the job at hand. Examples include (but are not limited too)jumping jacks, wall squats or body weight air squats, forward and reverse arm circles, lunges and brief periods of high knees running in place.
Yard work is just exercise with another name! Take breaks when you need them and carefully stretch your shoulders, hips and back as you work. Chores are not fun but if you rush you increase your likelihood of repetitive use and overuse injuries. And if you do strain, call me for an appointment (or better yet- schedule an appointment).
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