As we head into early spring and prepare to clean up our lawns and gardens, it’s a good idea to remember how to take care of our bodies and avoid injuries as we bring in the spring. Here are 4 reminders to consider:
REMINDER 1: Fallen branches don’t need to lead to a sore back.
Small scattered branches require repetitive bending which can be hard on your back. You can reduce the chance of injury by remembering to keep your back straight, engage your stomach muscles and bend at the knees (not at the waist). If you have a big yard, do this clean-up in intervals. If it must be done all at once, ask for help.
Bigger branches that are heavy, present a bigger risk for injury. Before attempting to move these branches, gauge their weight and where you need them to be moved to. It is always best to seek help from another able-bodied person, if the branch is too heavy to move without it causing you pain.
REMINDER 2: Avoid bending over backwards for your flower beds and gardens.
It is common to bend for long periods of time when you are cleaning up a garden. This activity, however, is hard on your back and legs. You can reduce the possibility of injury by having one foot placed on the ground with the hip and knee flexed while the opposite knee is kneeling on the ground.
Avoid staying in one position for too long (10–15 minutes max.) Take breaks every 45 minutes to an hour. Try not to work for more than 2 hours a day.
REMINDER 3: Good tools are worth your investment.
There are many tools that can make your yard work faster and easier. A stand-up weeder is great for removing weeds without exerting pressure on your back and knees. A utility cart to haul debris away or bring supplies to your gardens reduces strain across many parts of your body. And, when you need to get to something up high like a tree branch or rain gutters, an extendable pole will keep you off of ladders and save strained muscles or potential accidents.
REMINDER 4: If you need help, ask for it.
Though we mentioned it in reminder 1 in reference to heavy branches, remember that if you don’t feel that you are physically able to clean up your yard without causing harm to your body, talk to your physical therapist. Learning more about how to move properly is your best bet for avoiding injury. You can also consider hiring a lawn service. Most providers offer a one-time only service to help with the bigger job of cleaning up last year’s yard debris.
Take care of your body so that when spring arrives in its full splendor, you can fully enjoy it!