You’ll never know when the strain you put on your body adds to your pain. Autumn yard work is here and it is better to condition your body before doing the work.
#1 Stretch before and after any yard work. It might even help to take a short walk before stretching as warm muscles stretch better than cold ones. Be sure to stretch slowly and never bounce. When stretching, hold each position for a minimum of 15 seconds and the stretch should never be painful.
First sit and reach for your toes with out stretched legs, one leg at a time. Then stand and grab the front of your ankle as you pull it behind you, standing on one leg (if you can’t balance on one leg, hold on to something to help you keep your balance). Then pull arm across the body with opposite hand. Next use a doorway and place forearms vertically on each side of the door jam and step into the stretch. (Don’t lean into it.)
#2 Try to use tools with long enough handles that will allow you to stand up straight. Trying to sweep, rake or hoe while bent over can strain your back. Then while raking or hoeing, use your legs, not your back, to pull toward your body. And then switch hands. Learning to use both sides of your body helps to keep your body balanced.
#3 Switch activities and change positions often. Each activity you do should only be done for about 20-30 minutes at a time. If you have a lot to do, it is better to change tasks even before one is finished in order to change what activity your body is doing in order to create less fatigue. You can get back to an unfinished job a half hour later. Even in that 20-30 minute time frame, if you can change from sitting to kneeling or to standing, and vice versa, then do so.
#4 When lifting heavy objects, lift with your legs as much as possible and not your back. Get as close to an object as you can, bend your knees and hold the object close to your body. Never lift and twist, always move your feet to turn. Twisting puts a lot more strain on the disks of your spine. When shoveling, don’t over load the shovel. And when lifting the shovel bend your knees and reach down and grab the shovel close to the head of the shovel and lift with your legs. If you don’t reach close to the head of the shovel, you will create a longer lever adding strain to your back.
Remember when starting out for the first time since the fall, pace yourself and spread out the work over multiple days if needed. Overdoing it in the first day is sure to bring on sore muscles the day after.