June 23, 2019

How to Avoid a Sore Back From Yard Work This Summer

Take care of your yard — and your back — during the warm months

Elderly woman kneeling and gardening

With summer FINALLLLLY here, many of us are busy sprucing up our yards. But, hauling mulch and planting can take a toll on your back.

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Santhosh Thomas, DO, MBA, says people can avoid letting their flower beds get the best of them by using good body mechanics.

“Body mechanics are very important, as well as having a good, ideal weight,” he says. “If you’re carrying around some extra weight, just recognize that it’s going to affect your body mechanics. And you should use the appropriate tools for the right job because bad tools will lead to bad body mechanics.”

Work slow and steady

Dr. Thomas advises it’s smart to start slow and ease into yard work.

Yoga or stretching can help warm up muscles before heading out into the yard. Being flexible and having good core strength can also help your body better tolerate outdoor clean-up activities.

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If certain types of activities trigger back pain, Dr. Thomas recommends modifying work to avoid reinjuring your back.

“People often get hurt doing more than their bodies are able to do, so it’s best to ask for help instead of overdoing it alone,” he says.

Finding relief if pain persists

“For those who end up with a sore lower back, most times the injury will resolve on its own with about 48 hours of rest,” Dr. Thomas says.

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications ― for those who are able to take them ― and applying ice or heat often helps too.

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However, if back pain lingers for more than a few days, alternative therapies can be the next line of defense.

Dr. Thomas says you might want to consider massage ― an an option that’s more for soft tissue ― or acupuncture. Two to four sessions of an alternative therapy should be sufficient for easing back pain, he notes. If pain still persists, it should be reassessed by a physician.

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