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Tips to help your back during yard work

Home » » Tips to help your back during yard work

With warmer Spring weather here, most of us will be headed out to our yards and gardens to clean up after a long Winter. One of the things that I frequently help people out with during this time of year, is back pain after doing yard work or gardening. In this article, I would like to offer you some tips to allow you to get done what you need to, without experiencing a bad episode of back pain…..

Let’s face it-no one really enjoys the yard/garden clean up after a long Winter. But, it has to be done if we want to enjoy the beauty of a well-manicured lawn or the flower/vegetable garden. Getting through the task of the clean up can be made even worse if you experience an onset of back pain afterwards. In the article below, I want to discuss some things you can do to help minimize your risk of experiencing back pain during or afterward. 

1. Break It Up Into Smaller Blocks of Work:  One of the first things to realize is that experiencing some pain or discomfort after doing yard work is not uncommon, and it is likely nothing serious. You have to remember, that doing extensive Spring yard clean up is only something you do once a year. Just like any activity that you do not do often, your body and back may not be used to doing the things you will be having it do-raking, shoveling, bending twisting, etc. None of these activities or movements are bad for your back, but if you are doing more than it is ready for, it can make you a bit sore or painful. Now, if you are like me, you just want to get it all done as quickly as possible. This is not the smartest thing to do if you want to decrease your risk of having pain afterward. Something you can try to do in order to minimize the risk of having pain, is to break up your yard work over a longer period of time. If we can break up the work into a couple hour blocks or spread it out over a few days, this will help reduce the chance that you have an episode of significant back pain. 
2. Switch Sides:  You likely have a specific side that you rake or shovel from. This is only natural. Although you will likely feel very uncoordinated, switching the sides that you are raking or shoveling from can be a good strategy to help decrease the risk of back pain. Switching sides will allow you to move in a different way and use the opposite side muscles to work and will change the forces placed through your back, allowing you to do it longer without “over-working” one area. 

3. Stretch During: Many of the activities you will do during yard work or gardening will require you to bend forward for extended periods of time and require you to do it multiple times during the day. As I stated previously, there is nothing wrong with bending-our backs were designed to do it. However, doing it longer or more frequently than you are used to can at times, cause pain. It is important that you periodically straighten up and even stretch backward during your yard work, to give your back some relief. The photo to the right is an example of how you should stretch if you have been doing a lot of bending forward. 

4. Kneel or Sit During: If there is an area of your yard or garden that you are going to be working at for a while, another option to give your back some relief from bending is to kneel or sit on something for a while. If you do this, it is also important to stand frequently to break up extended time in these positions as well. Also, if you decide to sit on something and work, switch the sides that you are reaching to frequently. Just like switching sides while raking or shoveling, this will change the forces through your back and give relief to the side you have been working. 

5. Avoid Sitting Too Long and Stretch After: Even though you try these things, you may still experience some pain or soreness in your back after yard work. Although sitting and resting may feel good, chances are when you get up, your back will actually feel more stiff and painful. So, don’t sit too long. It is important to remember that if you do experience some pain and soreness, staying active and changing positions frequently throughout the day will help you recover faster. Also, doing some light stretching can also help. Below are videos of two different stretches that you can use to help “loosen” up your back if it becomes stiff and sore after your yard work. 

If you or someone you know, is struggling with back pain after doing some yard work, and it is not getting better in a few days, reach out to me to get some help.

Thanks for reading,



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