Don't Let Your Back Get "out of Whack": Smart Tips for Attacking Weeds and Leaves
state-of-the-art equipment available today for lawn and leaf management
can turn the average homeowner into a lawn specialist overnight. But
the use of weed trimmers, leaf blowers and hedge clippers also has been
sending many aspiring landscapers to their doctor's offices.
If not used
properly, this equipment can result in back and neck pain, as well as
more serious muscular strains and tears, warns the American
Chiropractic Association (ACA).
repetitive motion that your body undergoes when using such equipment
can bring on a whole host of mechanical problems within the body," said
Dr. Jerome McAndrews, national spokesman for the ACA. "It is essential
to operate your equipment properly. If you do not, the pounding your
body endures may be multiplied."
McAndrews offered the following tips to help you safely enjoy a productive day in the yard:
Regardless of what piece of equipment you're using, make sure it has a
strap -- and that you use it. Place the strap over your head on the
shoulder opposite the device. This will help normalize your center of
- As often
as possible, be sure to switch the side on which you're operating the
equipment and, to balance the muscles being used, alternate your stance
and motion frequently.
frequent breaks from the activity of the day. Muscle fatigue may be
felt when using any of these devices for an extended period of time.
electric-powered items, especially if you experience back or neck pain,
as they tend to be much lighter than their engine-powered counterparts.
picking up or putting down your equipment, be sure to bend from the
knees, not at the waists. Keep the object close to your body as you
lift, not at arm's length.
"While it is
critical that you operate your yard equipment safely, it is equally
important that you prepare your body for the work you are about to do,"
explained McAndrews. "Be sure to include a warm-up/cool-down period
that involves stretching to help avoid injury."
stretching, there are a few tips to keep in mind, according to ACA.
Breathe in and out slowly throughout each stretching exercise until the
muscle is stretched to its furthest point. At that point, hold your
breath in. When you relax, breathe out. Stretch gently and smoothly. Do
not bounce or jerk your body in any way, and stretch as far as you can
comfortably. You should not feel any pain.
The following are some easy stretches McAndrews recommends for getting the most out of the time you spend in the yard:
- Stand up
and prop your heel on a back door-step or stool, with your knee
slightly bent. Bend forward until you feel a slight pull at the back of
the thigh (your hamstring). You may need to stabilize yourself by
holding onto a garage-door handle or sturdy tree branch. Hold the
position for 20 seconds, then relax. Do it once more, then repeat with
the other leg.
- Stand up
and put your right hand against a wall or other stable surface. Bend
your left knee and grab your ankle with your left hand. Pull your heel
toward your buttocks to stretech the quadricep muscle at the front of
your thigh. Hold that position for 20 seconds, relax and do it again.
Repeat with the other leg.
your fingers together above your head with your palms up. Lean to one
side for 10 seconds to stretch the side of your upper body, then
reverse. Repeat two or three times.
- "Hug your
best friend": Wrap your arms around yourself after letting your breath
out and rotate to one side, as far as you can go. Hold it for 10
seconds, then reverse. Repeat two or three times.