Spring Forward (But Be Careful)

Avoid Lower Back Pain on the First Day of Spring Cleaning.

After a long hard winter, you are surprised to hear the weatherman calling for an unseasonably warm day with beautiful clear skies. Opening your windows to let in the crisp morning air, you quickly realize that this is the perfect day to start spring clean-up.

Reaching into the back of your closet, you smile as you rediscover your old comfy jeans and favorite T. A quick phone call to your dad confirms he’s on the way. You cannot help but feel excited as you both start your annual spring traditions.

Sitting on the front steps to tie your shoes, your enthusiasm is tempered as you survey the yard. The memory of a fall clean-up well done left you feeling satisfied as you stored your rusted rake for the winter. You sigh, realizing that despite your best efforts last fall, there are branches and leaves strewn throughout the yard. You glance up to soak in the beautiful afternoon only to notice the leaves taunting you from the overflowing gutters. You wonder where this mess came from.

Looking for a manageable place to start, you imagine the beautiful annuals that will light up the front of your home and delight your other half. With your trusty rake in hand, you begin.

After countless bends and twists to shovel the leaves into the ever-collapsing large black bags you remember what a toll spring clean-up takes on your back. But you want to take advantage of this gorgeous day and decide to persevere. Envisioning a new activity will give your aching back a break, and you toss the cursed rake aside. You slowly creak down on all fours and start the daunting task of weeding.

A few hundred weeks later you realize that this didn’t provide the reprieve that you thought it would. Looking over to your dad, you see him leaning on a rake taking his 5th break already. As he watches the squirrels play, you notice him rubbing his lower back.

Tips for Avoiding Lower Back Pain

Worried about your dad and his lower back pain, you encourage him to stretch and take an early lunch break. As he lumbers inside, you are worried you inherited his “bad back”. Wanting to avoid the same fate, you remove your work gloves, wipe the sweat from your forehead, and reach into your pocket for your smart phone. After a quick web search, you are reminded about lifting with your legs, something you always knew, but rarely did. When your dad rejoins you, he is refreshed and re-energized. Feeling a sense of accomplishment as you both survey the beautiful landscape, he is eager to tackle the remaining yard work. While enjoying a refreshing glass of lemonade, you tell him about Dr. Vidyarthi’s tips to protect his back and reduce risk of injuries:

  1. Warm-up. Give your muscles a chance to warm up with a brisk walk and stretch. Warming up will reduce the chances of soft tissue damage and lubricate the joints for less painful movement.
  2. Bend and lift the right way. Bending at your back puts a tremendous about of stress on your back and joints leading to arthritis and pain. You can minimize this by bending and lifting at the knees and legs and instead of with your back.
  3. Stay hydrated. Dehydration causes cramps, makes you feel sore, and lengthens recovery. Stop feeling sore tomorrow by staying hydrated today.
  4. Take frequent breaks. Giving your body a chance to rest and recover limits injuries and keeps you feeling fresh.
  5. Stretch. Stretching before, during, and after a long day of hard work promotes blood flow which delivers fresh oxygen and nutrients to sore tissues. You’ll feel better as you invigorate the body’s natural healing response.
  6. Quit smoking. Believe it or not, smoking worsens pain. Read our smoking blog for more information and tips to quit.

Remembering to bend with your legs, you pick up the dirty work gloves and look forward to the beautiful results of a hard day’s work.