We reached out to one of our favourite local Winnipeg physiotherapists, Dan Girardin of Prairie Trail Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic and asked him what tips he could give us for treating and preventing back injuries caused by yard work. Sure enough he had just written a post on exactly that topic for the PT Physio blog.
So here it is:
(Original Post found here)
Summer is here and with it comes the joys of planting gardens and tending to your yard. Many people will find themselves dealing with back and hip, or neck and shoulder pain as they putter around their green space. This is usually due to an increase in activity that has not been performed for some time; things like raking, shoveling dirt, or spending time in a bent over position picking pesky dandelions.
The pain is often a result of a simple mechanical imbalance in the way you move throughout your day. Doing repeated movements when there is a mechanical imbalance, can lead to some muscles and/or joints becoming overused, which may lead to pain and injury. Often, the painful area may be the victim, whereas other parts of your body which are pain free are the truly dysfunctional tissues. For example one area of your body, such as your mid back (thoracic spine), lacks mobility and to continue doing the work you want to do, another area, such as your low back (lumbar spine), moves more and works harder to compensate for that lack of mobility. The joint and or muscle which is working harder (lumbar spine) may become irritated and injured.
Performing a thorough assessment, a physiotherapist can help determine which structures are causing the imbalance and which are causing the pain. The assessment will guide the treatment techniques used, which may include manual therapy, exercise and education to help correct the imbalance. You then will be provided a simple home exercise program to get you back in your yard working pain free!