Reduce Your Chances of Summer Yard Work Pain
The sun is shining, the temperatures have increased and your yard is looking a bit unruly. All of these factors combined make the summer the perfect time to accomplish the yard work you've been putting off these past few months. This likely isn't a quick job, and it will take a few weekends to complete. But, as with most forms of physical activity, there's always a risk of getting injured. Don't underestimate yard work - it's actually a strenuous form of exercise. Here's how to reduce your chances of pulling a muscle or worsening back pain in the process.
Prepare for Physical Activity
You probably wouldn't start an intense workout without stretching, and yard work should be treated no differently. Warm up your muscles and joints and prepare them for physical activity. Even just some light stretching and a slow jog can help prepare you for the work ahead. And you're not done when your chores are complete for the day. Stretching after physical activity is just as important, so don't forget to factor in some time for a good cool down period after your workout.
Practice Good Form
While you mow the lawn or trim the shrubbery, your instinct might be to crouch down in a way that lets you get the job done quickly. However, the NIH noted that poor posture can lead to muscle spasms and other forms of discomfort throughout your body - specifically, in your lower back. Be sure to roll your shoulders back, stand straight and always lift heavy objects with care. You should be bending at the knees rather than at the waist.
Use the Right Tools
There are many tools designed to make your life easier when you're performing yard work. For one, look into knee pads for when you're spending most of your time on the ground so you can keep pressure off of your joints. You should also have proper footwear for a number of reasons. First, you'll want to make sure you're stabilized - especially if you need to climb a ladder or carry heavy equipment throughout the yard. The right shoes can also help keep your toes safer from any falling objects.
Take Frequent Breaks
Maintaining a well kept lawn is hard work, and it can be rather exhausting. Be sure to take plenty of breaks throughout the day to rest your muscles and recover from all of the physical exertion. When you're tired, you're more likely to make a mistake that could mean significant recovery time. You shouldn't be operating heavy machinery, climbing ladders or lifting objects when you're too tired to do so properly. Save it for the next day. After all, the work isn't going anywhere.
Know Your Limits
It's important to know what kinds of work you're capable of before you hurt yourself. Be sure to ask for help from friends and neighbors for large or time consuming projects, and hire a professional if necessary. It could get expensive, but so are medical bills if you suffer an injury when attempting to do it yourself.
Treat Pain Properly
Despite following all of these best practices, it's still possible to injure yourself. You'll want to make sure you properly treat sore muscles and joints with ice and heat therapy to soothe discomfort. Any serious pain should be brought to the attention of a doctor who can identify exactly which area needs treatment. He or she can also recommend tips for healing and make sure that there was no serious injury that occurred.