Spring Into Health: Protect Your Back!
Low back pain- Spring activities and how to take care of yourself!
Now that it is warmer outside, and we all want to be physically active in the yard, we need to remember to take care of our spine! Activities such as gardening, weeding, lawn care, “spring cleaning,” patio furniture set-up and more can come with a cost.
Here are some great tips to help you take care of your back this spring:
- Take it easy. Your back is not used to being hunched over, lifting and being stressed. Ease into it (yes, even if it is a nice day outside!). Do no more than 1 hour of work the first day, then ramp up to 2, then 3, but no more than 3 unless you break it up morning and night to allow muscles to rest.
- Rest often. Take frequent water breaks, and time to change positions. For example, if you are hunched over forward planting a garden, then go inside and lay on your stomach to stretch your abs and hips and give your upper back a break. If you are lifting heave objects, come inside and lay flat on your back to allow your spine to “re-set” itself.
- Remember to recover. This includes sleeping well supported on a good mattress, stretching your hips, hamstrings (back of your legs), quads and hip flexors (front of your legs) and your spine. If you need to, you can lay over a foam roll to help massage the muscles, or a tennis ball on the sides of your spine to let body weight do the work!
- Lift properly. As we all have heard, let the big muscles in our body do the work, so the little muscles don’t get overtaxed. When lifting, make sure your back is upright, you bend at the knees, bend at the hips so that you are in a position as if you are going to sit in a chair, and hold the object close to your body. This will allow your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and deep hip muscles to do the work and your spine to stabilize itself and not stress.
- Ask for help. If you are lifting and dragging things that are too heavy, get help! You can ask a neighbor, family member or use tools that may help you like long-armed hole diggers, wheel barrows and more.
- Warmth relaxes. Now is the time to soak in that tub, put the heating pad on or let the shower run on your spine. Warmth brings blood flow to the area, making muscles relax, blood vessels dilate, and movement better. After you are warm, or during the process, stretch. Bend to the sides, reach overhead, arch backwards, hunch forward, twist slowly, inhale and exhale and make your body move. This will make you feel better at the time and the next day, too!