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Dec 4, 2020

Yard Work with an Achy Back: 5 Ways to keep your back healthy and get your work done.

Keeping your yard in top shape can leave you feeling a little bent out of shape, so check out our tips for staying safe.

Watching the leaves blanket the yard this time of year may have you itching to grab a rake, but tackling yard work too vigorously can leave you sore and tired, especially if you are already experiencing back pain. Back pain and muscle sprains are common complaints after outdoor work, and they can be a nuisance.

Our doctors at Semmes Murphey Clinic encourage you to be as active as you safely can be, but recommend you consider these tips before you jump in. And remember, if you aren't sure how much activity is safe for you, please check with your doctor first!

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Warm Up

Just like strenuous sports, even light activities benefit from a proper warm-up. Try a few stretches or a brisk walk around the block to get your joints ready for work. Stretching is especially important if you aren't typically very active. "It's a good idea to do light stretches every day, and walking is a wonderful exercise. It's important to incorporate some activity daily to stay healthy. Everything in moderation is a good rule of life," says Dr. Kevin Foley, Neurosurgeon and Chairman of Semmes Murphey Clinic.

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Stay Hydrated

You may not feel as thirsty when it's cooler outside, but yard work usually means you will sweat and lose water. Your body works much better when you drink water consistently before and during your yard work.

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Lift Correctly

Proper body mechanics are the key to safely lifting any load, light or heavy. You've probably heard that you should "lift with your legs, not your back," and it's true. Dr. Foley emphasizes the importance of proper lifting techniques for both light and heavy loads. "Instead of deep bending at the waist, bend your knees and use your legs to help you lift leaf bags, rakes, mulch, or other loads," he says. Or better yet, ask for help with heavy objects!

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Take Breaks

It may be tempting to tackle all of your projects in one day, but taking adequate breaks is important even for the most physically fit. Try to rest a few minutes every hour so you don't overdo it. This is especially effective when you're in cramped, crouched positions for activities like weeding or planting. Stand up often and stretch your back.

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Enjoy yourself

Yard work can be a great way to enjoy cooler weather, appreciate nature, and experience the changing of the seasons. Instead of seeing "chores" everywhere, enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and take it easy.

Whether from overly enthusiastic yardwork, weekend sports, or daily chores, aches and pains are a normal part of life. Studies show that 80% of us will experience back pain at some point, and for some, it may become chronic.

If your back pain won't go away and is impacting your quality of life, consult one of the experts at Semmes Murphey Clinic. If the problem doesn't require surgery, our Pain Specialists and Physical Therapists can help identify and treat the issue. And if it's more serious, our team of world-class surgeons is standing by to help with disorders, diseases, and injuries that require more invasive treatment.