Spring has finally sprung and summer is just around the corner. For many of us, this means it’s time to grab the rakes and shovels and head out to the yard to give it some much needed TLC. But not so fast, even though yard work is thought of as a chore, it still raises potential risks to our bodies— especially after a long winter of inactivity. Everything from moving garden supplies to weeding flowerbeds, pose threats to our bodies that could leave us with significant aches and pains.
With the help of our team of professionals from our Waterloo office, we’ve developed the following list of tips and tricks to help you safely complete your yard work and limit the amount of stress you place on your body.
Wear Proper Footwear
Reducing the amount of stress you place on your body starts with wearing the appropriate footwear. Just like you wouldn’t wear flip-flops to run in, you shouldn’t wear them while working in the yard either. Not only can you drop something on your foot and potentially bruise, cut or break it, but improper footwear also poses a risk of tripping and rolling your ankle. We suggest wearing footwear you can tie up nice and snug. Ideally, steel toe boots to protect against anything that could potentially fall on your feet, but sneakers, hiking boots or other lace-up footwear will also work.
Yes, yard work is a chore and not a sport, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less demanding on your body. You’d be surprised at how many of the motions yard work requires resemble motions completed during various sports. For this reason, we highly recommend stretching before you start your yard work. Stretching gives your joints and muscles a chance to loosen up and prepares them for the hard work you are about to put them through. Focus on your neck, legs and back, but it may also be a good idea to stretch other parts of your body too depending on what projects you have planned. For a complete breakdown of proper stretching techniques, the different types of stretches and example stretches, check out our blog post from last month, “The Importance of Stretching”.
Start Small and Be Mindful of Your Body
After a long winter, your body has become accustomed to lower amounts of physical activity and so may take a little bit of time to adjust to what you are asking of it. This is why, we recommend starting with smaller, less strenuous projects like raking and weeding. Then, gradually work your way up to tasks that require more effort, like lifting stumps and rocks. The trick is not to treat yard work as a race. We know you’d rather get it done and spend the day relaxing on your deck or patio, but attempting to do too much too quickly could lead to severe injuries that force you to spend more time indoors than you’d like. And remember to listen to your body, aches and pains are its way of telling you to stop what you’re doing and take a break.
Use Proper Lifting Techniques
Everyone has heard the saying “lift with your knees”, but during yard cleanup, this is especially true. Between the heavy bags of mulch and soil to rocks, stumps and wheelbarrows, you may be forced to lift objects as heavy as 50 pounds. This leaves you with three options:
- If you know you’re unable to lift whatever it may be, ask a neighbour, family member, or store employee to assist you. Your back will thank you later.
- If you have to do it alone for some reason, lift with your knees and not your back.
- Know when something is too heavy. This can be the difference between suffering from severe back pain and the ability to bend and move as you please.
Practice Proper Bending and Kneeling
Between the weeding of your flowerbeds and the planting of fresh flowers, we can almost guarantee you’ll do a lot of kneeling and bending this spring and summer. And believe it or not, there’s a proper and improper way to kneel. The proper way to kneel is to only ever place one knee on the ground at a time. Your other leg should be bent at a 90-degree angle so that you can lean on it and take some of the weight off the knee on the ground. It might not sound like much, but it can make a world of difference when it comes to joint pain. We also suggest wearing knee pads if possible to provide further relief for your knees. Some of you may prefer to bend over than kneel and while this is an entirely acceptable alternative, remember to take frequent breaks to stand up and walk around. This helps prevent stiffness and cramping in your back, legs and neck.
What To Do If You Suffer An Injury
Like everything else we do, accidents will sometimes happen. You may not have seen that root sticking up, or maybe you underestimated the size of that rock. Regardless of what might have happened, knowing how to treat any pain and stiffness can help you get back on your feet and doing the things you love quicker. At Absolute Rehab Centre, our team of professionals are highly trained in their chosen fields and can diagnose any pain, stiffness or soreness you may be suffering from. From massage therapy and acupuncture to physiotherapy and chiropractic services, we’re able to treat injuries of all severities and will make sure you’re back in the yard in no time. Contact us today by phone or email to arrange a consultation or to schedule an appointment for treatment— the sooner you reach out to us the sooner we can get you back to your usual self.