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After what has seemed like an endless winter, spring has finally arrived and it’s bringing new beginnings, fresh air, flowers in bloom and unfortunately, for those unlucky few… back pain.

Spring cleaning, gardening, DIY projects and more time spent participating in outdoor activities can all be contributors to the back pain some of us might be experiencing this time of year. Unfortunately, sometimes the silliest things—cleaning the gutters, unloading the dishwasher or picking a weed from your garden bed—can lead to days, weeks or even months of discomfort.

Lessen your risk of back injury this spring by following these quick tips.

Spring Cleaning. When lifting heavy objects (such as a bucket full of soapy water or a vacuum cleaner), make sure you use good body mechanics. Always bend at your knees rather than your waist, and never lean backwards when carrying heavy items.  If you’re cleaning gutters or windows, make sure you use a ladder to be completely level with the area you’re cleaning so you do not reach and twist to get the hard spots. If you’re mopping or vacuuming floors, push or pull in small strokes to avoid leaning forward and overextending your back.

Gardening. Take frequent breaks—don’t garden for longer than 20-30 minutes at a time. Avoid standing and bending forward from the waist. If you need to be near the ground for planting or weeding, protect your knees with a pad (such as BackJoy’s Kneeler). Make sure that while kneeling, you keep your back as straight as possible.

Do-it-Yourself Projects. Keep the objects you are working with and your work surfaces within arm’s reach. It’s always a great idea to enlist someone to hand you the tools you need so you are not over-reaching or twisting around to find them. Try to use tools with long handles to avoid bending and reaching towards your project all-together. Make sure your hips, shoulders and feet are facing the object you are working with.  

Spring Sports. Horse-back riding, golf, cycling and tennis are all some of the sports that pop up this time of year. While lower back pain can be caused by a variety of things, strained muscles is one of the number one common causes. Stretch and strengthen your back muscles before and after exercise to keep your muscles and ligaments flexible and make them less prone to painful strain.  Here are a few back stretches that may help.