April 06, 2023 Healthy Living

Protect your back while doing yardwork

Gardening and yardwork season is finally here! After a long winter, people are excited to be outside doing spring clean-up and tending to their lawn, flowers, and vegetable gardens. Here is how you can avoid the stiffness and lower back pain often felt after the first gardening of the season:

  • Stretch before you begin raking, mowing, and gardening. Warming up the muscles in your body can help you avoid an injury.
  • Overuse and repetition are both factors that can cause lower back pain. Avoid repeated bending or stooping, which causes stress to your spine. Whenever possible, you should get as close to the ground as you can.
  • Remember to use basic body mechanics:
    • Keep objects close to your body when lifting.
    • Avoid twisting when lifting heavy items such as lawn and leaf bags, soil, and mulch.
    • Maintain the natural curves of the spine as you work.
    • Bend your knees and squat to get to ground level instead of bending over.
  • Use a cushioned kneeler or knee pads to reduce knee pressure.
  • Garden seats, scooters, and benches are helpful in minimize bending.
  • Extended or specialized tools allow for gardening and lawn work from an upright position.
  • Take regular breaks to hydrate, reapply sunscreen, and rest overworked muscles.
  • Consider raised gardening beds.

If despite all your efforts to avoid low back pain, you experience sore muscles and stiffness occurs after gardening, the following may be helpful:

  • Alternating hot and cold compresses on the affected area.
  • Wearing back support.
  • Taking a few days of rest, though it’s important to continue to move and walk.
  • Avoid bed rest if you can. 
  • Using over-the-counter pain medicine as directed.
Peter Vellis
About the Author

Peter A. Vellis, DO, joined CDPHP in February 2015 as medical director. In this role, Dr. Vellis assists in the utilization management programs and the CDPHP Enhanced Primary Care initiative. Dr. Vellis received his medical degree from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his residency in family medicine and a primary care sports medicine fellowship at Albany Medical Center. Dr. Vellis is board certified in family medicine with a CAQ (Certificate of Added Qualification) in sports medicine.

2 Responses to “Protect your back while doing yardwork”

  1. Kathleen Samaniuk Hayes

    Thank you for sharing the information.

  2. Marlene A Powers

    Information is very helpful and Excellent seasonal reminder!!

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