I understand. It wasn’t exactly the coldest of winters, but you still couldn’t wait for spring to get here. You made big plans for a garden and a beautiful lawn. You could not wait to get out in the yard, enjoy the weather and get some exercise.
Now, if you are like a lot of people, the first rush of planting, shoveling, mowing, cutting and raking has you looking for the couch and some relief for your aching back.
Back pain is a frequent cause of visits to a doctor’s office, and spring is prime time for back trouble as we try to make our lawns and gardens look just like the ones in magazines and on HGTV. A lot of people will jump feet first into their long-planned project and exert themselves too quickly. You may be one of them, but your back can survive if you take a few precautions.
The first thing you need to remember is to take your time. Your body has forgotten about all of the twisting, lifting and digging that goes with yard work. Begin slowly and don’t do too much all at once. Split your big project into several smaller ones and don’t expect to get it all done in one day or weekend. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.
Don’t forget to loosen up before you begin. Prepare for gardening and yard work as you would for a sport. Try some gentle stretching exercises before hitting the great outdoors. Your back and muscles will love you for it.
Bags of mulch, top soil and fertilizer are heavy, so lift them properly. Keep heavy objects close to your body, bend your knees, keep your back straight and let your leg muscles do the lifting. Get help if something is too heavy to lift alone. Don’t drag it across the lawn. That will damage your back along with the grass.
The same idea applies to pulling weeds. Bend your knees, not your back, and use your arm muscles to pull the weeds. Have a seat if bad knees prevent you from squatting. Grass stains are better than a strained back.
You can also protect your back with the proper gardening tools. Well-made, long-handled tools make the work easier and ease the strain on your body. Some manufacturers make garden tools with handles designed to help ease back strain and arthritis pain in your hands. They are well worth the investment.
So are work gloves. Protect your hands from blisters and unnecessary injuries by wearing the proper gloves. You can find work gloves made out of everything from canvas to leather and latex covered cloth. Do your research and make sure that you use the right glove for the right project.
And don’t forget to wear a good pair of shoes. Yard work can put a lot of strain on your feet. Good foot support stops some of that strain from reaching your back. Sandals won’t do the job when it comes to yard work.
Finally, go slowly. Yard work is an ongoing project. Relax, step back and admire the progress of your project.