Fall weather is here! The leaves are falling, the days are getting shorter, and very soon the snow will be upon us! That means it’s time to clean up the garden, rake the leaves, and get those snow shovels ready. If just the sound of these activities makes your lower back ache, we have some quick and easy tips for you.
Most outside chores such as gardening, cleaning gutters, raking leaves, shoveling snow, or even pulling weeds, can be dangerous for your lower back. The first and most important rule of thumb is to take breaks and lift only small amounts, even if that means doing a few more repetitions. A little bit of exercise or yard work every day is far better than a whole bunch of yard work in one weekend. Remember when working in the yard to always do a gentle warm up or some easy stretching and allow time at the end of your chores to cool down with more easy stretching. A proper lifting sequence should be used for any lifting of leaves, snow, boxes or other items.
Here is an appropriate sequence:
1. Get a firm footing: Keep your feet shoulder width apart or wider with your toes slightly turned out to create a stable base.
2. Bend your knees: Do NOT bend at the waist. Keep a straight spine as you straighten your knees and hold the load closer to your pelvis than your chest.
3. Tighten your stomach muscles: Abdominal muscles support your spine when you lift, offsetting the force of the load. Train your abdominal muscles to work with your leg muscles.
4. Lift with your legs: Your leg muscles are stronger and larger than your back muscles so remember to use the big leg muscles for lifting, not the smaller back muscles.
5. Keep loads close: Do NOT hold any amount of weight or load away from your body…it makes the load heavier! The closer the load is to your spine, the less it exerts pressure on your back.
6. Keep your back upright: During the lift or the lowering portion do NOT lean over. This adds more weight to the load and makes your back work harder. Avoid bending forward and any twisting motions..use your legs to move NOT your back.
Fall is an exciting time. Enjoy the changing season, but don’t get hurt. Treat your household chores like you would any workout. Be safe, warm up, and cool down. For more information or to contact us for pain relief, check out our website at www.PTLIFETIME.com or call 303-952-5053.