Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Time to Pull Your Weeds and Not Your Back!

It is finally here.  After our wonderful St. Louis hibernation, we are with much pleasure, able to get in our gardens and yards.  As expressed by almost every patient, it feels great to put fingers in the dirt and pamper our outside.  

One thing we all must be mindful of is that we did hibernate quite a bit this year.  And, as we start to work in our yards and gardens, we all have to remember a few simple rules to avoid injury.

1.Stretch!  Warm up with Light stretches for your back, neck and arms.  Even take a brisk walk to loosen your muscles.

2. Know your limitations and your strengths.  Do Not Overexert.  We all want it to look beautiful in one day but realistically that is what causes the pain and injuries.  Vary the tasks when you work outside. 

3. Avoid bending straight over.  Get closer to whatever it is you are doing whether it be weeding or planting.  Kneel or sit on the ground to avoid problems.

4. Lift dirt and plants by letting your arms, legs and thighs carry the load. Bend and straighten at the knees instead of the back and hips.  Lift the load close to your body and your center of gravity.  The key is to make a few extra trips and distribute the loads.

5. Use long handled tools to give you leverage. 

6. When using a ladder make sure you are facing it.  Whatever the task, make sure it is directly in front of you to avoid the leaning and reaching.  Not only can this cause back injuries but can increase the risk of falls.

7. Take frequent breaks!!!!  Walk around the yard to give yourself a break.

8. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.  Remember protecting your feet with support helps to protect your back.

9. Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.

10. Be aware of your body technique, form and posture while working outside. It can be the repetitive motion of bending, lifting and reaching that causes the injury to the muscles of winter.

Gardening and yard work can be one of the great pleasures of summer.  Take your time.  Vary your task. And most importantly, if your pain persists, call the office for an appointment.