When doing yard work, using proper technique is important for injury prevention. Twisting, turning and bending can lead to back injuries and muscle strains. Be especially careful when raking leaves, shoveling snow or digging in the garden.

Avoid Injury While Doing Yard Work

Spring is here and with it comes potential for injury. It is important to be prepared and safe when working in the yard. The following are tips for injury prevention:

Warm Up: Limber up before tackling the yard.  Go for a walk and stretch:  trunk rotations for stretching the back bring your knee up to your chest to stretch your lower back and legs, and reaching above your head with hands locked to stretch arms and shoulders.

Use Proper Body Mechanics: Be aware of body position when raking, bending or picking up debris in the yard.  Always bend from the knees and keep your back straight.  Consider using a cart or wheelbarrow to move items from one place in the yard to another.  When raking, place one foot in front of the other and then switch after 10 minutes.

Don’t twist when raking, shoveling or digging. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart with one foot forward. Alternate which foot you put in the front.

Change Tasks Often: Change positions often to avoid repetitive motions.  These motions are hard on your body and can lead to injury.  If you are pulling weeds, stand up after 10 minutes to stretch and change position. Rake a small part of the yard, then pick up the debris and move it out of the area.  Break up sitting tasks by walking whenever possible.

Use Ergonomic Tools and Be Safe: Choose tools with larger, padded or curved handles that are less strenuous to use over long periods of time.  Look for protective gloves that have a nonslip surface for grip and to help prevent blisters and add protection from sticks and thorns in debris.  When using ladders, have someone spotting and go slow to make sure to touch each step as you ascend and descend.  Use safety precautions when operating any machinery such as watching for electrical cords, wearing protective eye gear, and making sure you have cleared rocks or debris.

Lift with your legs, not your back. To do so, bend at your knees when picking up heavy objects instead of bending over at the waist. And don’t twist your back as you lift. If you have to turn, rotate your entire body.

For additional questions or if you need an injury evaluated, please contact your Minnesota Chiropractor.