With Mother’s Day behind us, this is the time of year to tend to the yard and garden. If you’re lucky enough to have a yard, it’s been a blessing during the COVID-19 outbreak – it gets you out of the house! That said, maintaining the yard can be grueling, backbreaking work. Here are a few tips to keep you safe and strong.
This seems self-explanatory, and it is. It’s still worth mentioning! A healthy dose of sunshine increases vitamin D absorption and improves mood, but there is such a thing as “too much.” Protect your skin, and stay hydrated. A sunburn can ruin your day.
Use a low stool, rather than standing and bending over.
If you have a garden or need to weed the yard, it’s a natural tendency to bend over and pull. While there’s nothing inherently dangerous about that, it’s a matter of sustaining that position for hours at a time. If you spend hours hunched over, you’ll only feel more fatigued. If you have a step-stool that you can sit on, use it. Trust me: your back will thank you.
Break the work down into small doses.
I know it’s tempting to take care of everything all at once, especially if yellow dandelions are staring you in the face. Work for an hour, then take a water break. Do a few shoulder and upper back stretches before you get back to it.
Strengthen your core and back.
I think when we hear “core strength,” we often think about abdominal muscles. While they do play a role in your trunk stability, it’s also important to improve the strength of extensor muscles – the actual muscles doing the work when you find yourself hunched over a dandelion. An easy exercise to add is called a superman – lie on your stomach and lift your chest from the floor. Start with a 10-second hold, and increase as it gets easier. Aim for three sets, two or three times per week. You can do this with arms overhead, or by your side.
As always, Peak Form is here for you, even in these uncertain times. If you have low back pain that seems aggravated by the onslaught of yard work, contact us to schedule an evaluation with one of our physical therapists.
Written by Laura Vroman