Fall is here and for most of us that means that our weekends are filled with raking leaves, other end of season gardening tasks and basic around the home maintenance, repairing some of the wear and tear that the summer months inevitably cause.
The problem with all of this is is that all this physical activity, much of which involves lots of lifting, carrying, bending and twisting, can take a real toll on your back. To help you avoid a painful start to the colder months here are five tips for keeping your back pain free while you are tackling all those Fall chores on your to do list.
1. Take a Few Minutes to Stretch
Any period of physical activity–and housecleaning and gardening are certainly physical activities–should begin with a simple stretching session, as doing so allows your muscles and tissues to ease into an active state.
Begin with your head and neck and work your way all the way down to your toes. If you skip this simple step, you really will be putting your back at greater risk of injury, so it really will be time well spent, even if you are keen to just get on when the tasks at hand.
2. Watch Your Form
Whether you are lifting and carrying heavy boxes to the garage to store, sacks of leaves across the back yard or hauling the patio furniture down to the basement it’s crucial that you practice the proper lifting techniques at all times.
When lifting bend at your knees, not at the waist and enlist help when carrying heavier objects. Even a simple odd twist of the back when lifting and carrying can cause a back injury and back pain, so stay aware and be careful always.
3. Remember, Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
Yes, you are looking forward to having all those leaves cleared, all of that clutter out of the kids’ rooms and the outdoor furniture back in storage. But you don’t have to do everything at once. Break up tasks over the course of a few days or even weeks, so that you’re not overworking your spine.
4. Work as a Part of a Team
Not only will enlisting the help of others get everything finished more quickly but you can all watch each other’s backs, almost literally. Aside from the help with heavy lifting having a fall maintenance companion (or two, or three) will make going up and down ladders a lot safer – especially if you are doing things like cleaning gutters – as you’ll have spotters to help prevent slips and falls that can cause serious injury.
5. Know When Enough is Enough
It’s not that unusual to notice some general discomfort in your back if you have been putting in some physical effort for a while, but if the pain increases, it’s imperative that you stop what you’re doing and take a break.
If the pain continues, but you think you just have a back strain or sprain, care for the injury with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications. If pain doesn’t decrease over the next few days, consider heading to the doctor for a check-up to get to the root of the problem.