Gardening/Spring Cleaning tips from your Oakville Physiotherapy Clinic
As the weather gets warmer and the snow melts, you will likely be looking to clean up your yard, start getting your garden ready and do some spring cleaning. Keep in mind that carrying heavy bags with yard waste, pushing a lawn mower, or performing repetitive tasks like digging or pulling weeds with improper technique can quickly tire your body and be a cause of injury. Yard work may seem like a harmless low-impact activity, but it is often the cause of pain or discomfort in our patients at Glen Abbey Physiotherapy.
Posture is probably the most affected aspect of your health when doing yard work, due to the fact that it involves a lot of bending, twisting, lifting, kneeling, and bending over. It’s easy to forget about the basics of proper body mechanics as you work for likely a few hours to finish the job. Here are a few physiotherapy tips to help unload your back and prevent injury:
- Warm up prior to starting any activity in the yard. Like shoveling snow, you don’t want to jump in and work full-out, since muscles that aren’t warm are more prone to injury. Walk in place, do a few stretches, and ease your way into your task.
- Make sure you are standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart to stabilize your balance and give you a good base of support.
- Do not bend at the waist!! Use your legs and squat down to lift, and ensure your back is straight and in a neutral position. This way your gluts are doing the work and you are avoiding straining your lower back.
- Don’t twist at the waist if you are carrying something heavy, and ensure that you a holding the load as close to your body as possible. This also minimizes the strain on your low back and shoulders.
- If you are working on flower pots/beds, elevate them to a more comfortable height to minimize bending and reaching.
- If you have to get down to ground level, use a mat or kneepads for comfort.
- Take frequent breaks. Work for 20-25 minutes then take a rest. You can also rotate between different tasks to give your back a break from any prolonged or repetitive work.
Despite your best intentions, you may wake up with some aches and pains or stiffness in your body after a few days of yard work. This would be a good time to check in with your physiotherapist at Glen Abbey physiotherapy. We can minimize your discomfort through use of pain modalities, manual therapy, stretching, and exercise prescription. Happy spring cleaning!