Steer Clear of a Sore Back this Summer

With summer just around the corner, many of us are busy sprucing up our yards - but, hauling mulch and planting can take a toll on your back.

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CLEVELAND – With the official start of summer just around the corner, many of us are busy sprucing up our yards.

But, hauling mulch and planting can take a toll on the back.

Santhosh Thomas, D.O., MBA, of Cleveland Clinic said people can avoid letting their flower beds get the best of them by using good body mechanics.

“Body mechanics are very important, and having a good, ideal weight would be very important,” he said. “If you are obese, just recognize that it’s going to affect your body mechanics. And you should use the appropriate tools for the right job, because bad tools will lead to bad body mechanics.”

Dr. Thomas said it’s smart to start slow and ease into yard work.

Yoga or stretching can help warm up muscles before heading out into the yard. Being flexible and having good core strength can also help the body better tolerate outdoor clean-up activities.

If certain types of activities trigger back pain, Dr. Thomas recommends modifying work to avoid reinjuring the back.

He said people often get hurt doing more than their bodies are able to do, so it’s best to ask for help instead of overdoing it alone.

For those who end up with a sore lower back, Dr. Thomas said, most times, the injury will resolve on its own with about 48 hours of rest.

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications – for those who are able to take them – and applying ice or heat often helps too.

However, if back pain lingers for more than a few days, alternative therapies can be the next line of defense.

“You may want to consider massages – an option that’s more for soft tissue – it really doesn’t help with the deep down disk injuries,” said Dr. Thomas. “You can also consider things like yoga, but again, use good body mechanics. I’m not against the idea of using acupuncture, which has been more and more popular and supported now.”

Dr. Thomas said 2-4 sessions of an alternative therapy should be sufficient for easing back pain. If pain still persists, it should be reassessed by a physician.

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