Back pain and injuries are so frequent that it is the second most common reason employees call of sick, next to the common cold. The staggering fact is, with some minor exceptions, most of them are completely preventable. Especially in labor-intensive industries, education and training are absolutely necessary for the benefit of both the employer and employee.
But what about at home?
There is a wealth of information out there on how to best protect yourself from back and spine injuries for almost any given task. Landscaping is no exception.
Having a healthy back is the best starting point. Regular exercise and stretching (as recommended by your doctor or health professional) will give you benefits that extend into all areas of your life. Even if you’re no yoga instructor, some light stretching before all the bending and moving around will loosen you up.
2. Plan Ahead
You plan what needs to be done and what materials or tools you will need. Why not take that time to consider how much physical exertion you can expect? Or even what positions you might be bend into to get those stubborn weeds unrooted? If you can plan, you can prevent!
Now that you have an idea of what kinds of movement you can expect, let’s talk about how to move. We found some great tips from the Cleveland Clinic
- “Keep objects close to your body when lifting.
- Maintain the natural curves of the spine as you work.
- Bend your knees and squat or kneel to get to ground level instead of bending over.
- When you are kneeling, be mindful of your position. Try kneeling with one knee on the ground and the other up, and switch knees as needed to alleviate pressure.
- Keep your movements smooth and avoid any sudden twisting or reaching motions.
- Switch activities and adjust your posture frequently to reduce the risk of repetitive-motion injuries.”
Take advantage of your tools! Sure, maybe carrying a 50-pound bag of soil to one end of your yard isn’t a big deal. Now, what if you have 5 bags? Use a wheelbarrow! It may seem silly at first but you will thank yourself in the long term.
If you have rakes, hoes, or shovels, make sure you are using them appropriately to get the most progress out of the least amount of physical exertion.
5. Listen to Your Body
If your feeling fatigued, sore, or any other warning signs from your body, then stop! Take a break, have some water and reevaluate. Do you need a quick snack break to refuel or is it time to say pause and pick it back up tomorrow? Overworking your body is a surefire way to wear it down quickly and prevent you from doing the activities you love down the road.