Getting back into gardening and yardwork in the warm weather doesn’t have to be a pain in the back if you take a few simple precautions. Your Comox Valley Chiropractic clinic is offering some easy tips to get back into the swing of spring without taking a toll on your back.
“When the warm weather finally arrives, people are eager to get outdoors and many of us tend to overdo it – especially on the weekends,” says Dr. Grayden Bridge, president of the Canadian Chiropractic Association. “That usually leads to a sore back and a lot of very stiff people showing up at work on Monday morning. The good news is that it’s mostly preventable. Taking a few simple steps will give your back a break and won’t slow you down. In fact, it may even improve your performance in the yard or on the green.”
The Canadian Chiropractic Association offers the following ten tips to give your back a break this spring – and all year round.
- Take it slow
Many of us are more sedentary during the winter months and lose flexibility and muscle tone. So, take it slow when starting-up spring and summer activities.
- Stretch out
Warm-up your muscles with five to ten minutes of gentle, slow stretching exercises to help prevent injuries and strains on muscles and joints before heading out to the garden.
- Take a break
When working in the yard, alternate tasks and positions, and take three brief breaks every hour. Stretch-out frequently.
- Lift it right
When lifting, keep your back straight and bend your knees. Lift with your legs not your back when you’re lifting heavy objects or moving potting soil.
Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after physical activity – especially during warm weather.
- The right moves
In the garden kneel to plant and weed. Rake with one leg in front and the other behind. Use tools that are a comfortable weight and size for you.
- Wear protective gear
A hat, sunscreen and breaks in the shade will help prevent overexposure to the sun’s rays and its heat.
- Good footwear reduces wear and tear
Wear comfortable supportive shoes appropriate for your activity to avoid slipping, twisting and sliding that can put your back out of gear.
- Stretch-out before you wrap-up
Before you call it a day, stretch-out your back and leg muscles to help prevent tightness and soreness.
- Sleep on your back or side
Sleeping on your stomach can prompt back pain – not what you want after an active day outside. A supportive mattress will also give your back a break.
“Despite the best preventive efforts, some people will still end-up with stiffness and soreness,” says Dr. Bridge. “Studies show that unless the condition is severe, you’re better off returning to light to moderate physical activity after taking it easy for a day or two. In fact, the sooner you begin to move, the faster your recovery will be.”
To help ease soreness, your Courtenay Chiropractor suggests the following:
- When lying on your back, you can ease the pressure on your back by propping a pillow under your knees, or while lying on your side, placing a pillow between your knees.
- Use a lumbar support pillow for any prolonged period of sitting, for example at your desk at work or while driving a car.
- Apply ice for the first day or two to calm spasms in the muscles and reduce inflammation. If one particular area of the back is sore or if you’ve suffered an injury, try an ice pack wrapped in a towel.
- If the pain persists for more than a few days, apply heat such as a hot water bottle, a heating pad, or a towel heated in water. Apply the hot compress for no more than 15 minutes at a time, up to four times a day. A hot bath or a shower massager will also bring relief by increasing blood flow to the back. Too much heat, however, may make the inflammation worse.
“If you have significant pain that lasts more than a few days, don’t tough it out – visit a health professional,” advises Dr. Bridge. “An expert evaluation, diagnosis and treatment plan will help ensure that chronic problems do not set-in and will get you back into your favourite activities more quickly.”
The information above was originally generated by the Canadian Chiropractic Association for patient education.