Enjoying Summer Activities without Back Pain
Want to avoid an aching back this summer? Try a few of these suggestions.
by Gina Marino, D.C.
Whether we’re gardening, traveling or just playing outdoors, summer fun often comes with back pain later. But that’s avoidable if we take a few simple precautions.
Gardening and Yard Work
Weeding, mowing, planting, raking and similar tasks can take a toll on the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints in the back. Keep these tips in mind while doing yard work:
When lifting heavy items, ask a friend to help or use a wheelbarrow or dolly.
When painting or planting, take frequent breaks to prevent back stiffness.
Don’t twist your body when lifting or digging.
Use your arm and leg muscles, not your back, when pushing a mower. For big yards, consider buying a riding mower.
Use raised flower beds to reduce time spent bending over.
Sitting for hours in a car (or plane or train) can cause back pain and stiffness. Prevent it with these techniques:
Use cushions to provide low-back and neck support.
When traveling by car, schedule time for frequent stops.
On a plane or train, get and take a walk through the car or cabin every two hours. (Walking helps prevent back pain and may also decrease the risk of a blood clot due to inactivity.)
Playing Summer Sports, Hiking and Biking
Swinging a golf club, tennis racquet or baseball bat can strain the back muscles and joints, particularly for someone with bad form or posture. According to the American Chiropractic Association, a force equal to 10 times our body weight is exerted on our spine during a golf swing. Playing these sports may also increase the risk of elbow and hip pain. A professional or coach can teach proper form. There’s also plenty of information about stances, swings and body mechanics in online videos.
To avoid back pain or injuries while hiking, wear hiking shoes or boots that offer adequate support for the feet. Using a walking stick can improve balance and reduce pressure on the back.
Spending hours in one position during a long bike ride can trigger back spasms and reduced range of motion. It’s critical that the bike size and seat height are right for the cyclist’s body. Someone who has to stretch to reach the handlebars or who’s sitting too high is more likely to strain their lower back.
It’s not necessary to participate in a sport to suffer a sports-related injury! Just watching the game can be a painful experience.
Bleachers or uncomfortable seats can increase pressure on the lower back and trigger inflammation. Frequent spectators—like parents whose kids play summer sports—should trying bringing a portable stadium seat with an attached back, and stand and stretch at regular intervals.
Preventing Summer Back Pain through Chiropractic Care
Regular chiropractic treatments keep the spine properly aligned and the muscles, ligaments and tendons loose and flexible. Treatments can be tailored to a specific sport or activity and can correct postural imbalances to improve performance and help prevent back pain.
Gina Marino, D.C., owns the Center for the Alignment of Body, Mind and Spirit, located at 2050 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh, NY. For appointments or more information, call 516-221-3500 or visit Align-Me.com.