2 Your Health: Protect your back when mulching

Getting the yard in order without putting your back out of commission

It has been said that ‘May is for mulching,’ but how can people get their curb appeal looking fab without suffering a back ache the next day?

Use the right muscles

Santhosh Thomas, D.O., of Cleveland Clinic, said that it can be done, but the key is to make sure that the activity is safe.

He said there are certain movements that can cause back pain and should be avoided.

“If you twist and lift that’s going to be problematic for most people,” said Dr. Thomas. “If you’re in good shape it may be less problematic, but twisting would be one of the things that can cause pain, along with lifting while you’re twisting.”

Dr. Thomas said that strong core muscles, strong back muscles as well as strong arm and leg muscles are essential for tackling any big jobs.

Some tips to avoid common yard work-induced pains:

  • If you must lift, lift with your legs and not with your back.
  • If you need to use the back, make sure your back is straight and not curved.
  • Stretch before and after any landscaping activity.
  • Divide work up into segments and don’t tackle it all at once.
  • Find someone else to help who likes yard work.
  • Hire a professional to do it for you.

Don’t overdo it

Sprains, strains and overuse injuries are common ailments that bring people to the doctor’s office following a weekend of yard work.

With proper rest, Dr. Thomas said that most of these types of injuries will resolve within a couple of days, however, if the pain persists after a few days, it’s time to seek the help of a doctor.

Dr. Thomas said it’s important for people to stay conditioned and to know their limits, as often times, they won’t even feel the pain until the next day, when it’s too late.

“Most of the time your body’s producing adrenaline and you’re excited to do your thing – you want to get it done,” said Dr. Thomas. “You’ll suck it up and just do it, and then you’ll say, ‘I shouldn’t have done it.’”


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