THURSDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- If you're planning on
digging up your garden or taking to the playing fields this summer,
make sure you start slow, take breaks and stretch.
Experts caution that jumping into new activities too quickly
after a long winter's rest can lead to back pain.
"When it comes to gardening and back pain, your body may need a few weeks after the long winter to become accustomed again to the physical stresses of gardening, such as squatting, twisting, lifting and digging," said Dr. David Wang, a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation at The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine in McLean, Va., in a news release.
More than 80 percent of people will experience lower back pain
at some point during their lives, according to Wang. Fortunately,
he added, preventative measures can lower the risk of back pain,
- Take it slow. Do not attempt too much right away. Try to
split large projects into several smaller ones, and take time to
- Warm up. Before you jump into a sport or activity, begin with
10 to 20 repetitions of gentle exercises such as standing hip
circles, toe touches, back bends and leg lifts.
- Consider body position. When lifting heavy objects, use your
legs and preserve your back. You can do this by keeping the item
close to your body, and squatting to keep your back as vertical as
- Take breaks. Avoid overexerting your muscles. Rest and change
your position every 15 minutes or so, especially if you are
kneeling, squatting or sitting in a bent or twisted position.
- Use proper equipment. When possible, use long-handled
gardening tools to minimize the amount of back bending you need to
do. The proper sporting equipment is also essential to protecting
- Stretch. After physical activity, hold stretches for 30
seconds to gradually improve your flexibility and reduce injury
Several weeks before a new sports season begins, Wang added that
athletes can also work with a physical therapist or personal
trainer to condition their bodies and prevent back strain.
Although most cases of back pain resolve on their own, Wang
warned there are certain situations where people should consult a
doctor, including situations in which:
- Pain gets progressively worse or lasts longer than three
- Back pain is accompanied by problems with your balance, bladder
or bowel function.
- Back pain is accompanied by leg pain, numbness or
The U.S. National Institutes of Health offers additional tips on
prevent back pain.