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alternatives to opioids

Alternatives to Opioids for Chronic Back Pain

alternatives to opioidsBy now, you must have heard of the opioid crisis. Doctors and drug companies are experiencing a backlash due to the quadrupled increase in opioid prescriptions between 1999 and 2014. The rampant use of these medications has done immeasurable physical, psychological and economic harm to this country.

If you’re one of those experiencing back pain on a regular basis and it’s affecting your life and work, you may be one of the millions with a necessary prescription. You may wonder how you could live without the pain meds. Are there really effective alternatives to opioids for back pain? Your Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) back specialist is well-versed in multiple pain management techniques and offers a number of alternatives to opioids for back pain relief.

Surgical Options for Pain Relief

While the specialists at SSI work to avoid surgery whenever possible, sometimes it’s the best option for dealing with your pain. SSI surgeons have several options — from cervical disc replacement to decompression of narrowed spaces within your spine. And many of these surgical procedures can be done endoscopically.

These techniques correct the problems causing your spine pain. Because they’re less invasive procedures, they also reduce the amount of surgical discomfort and decrease recovery time. In the end, you don’t have to take as many pain medications, lessening the chance of worrisome side effects.

Non-Invasive Back Pain Relief

Pain and stress cause your muscles to tighten, leading to greater pain and increased dependence on medicine. Some of the greatest advancements for helping deal with back pain are nerve blocks and steroid injections. Your back pain specialist may inject your nerve block in:

  • Your celiac plexus
  • Your occipital nerves
  • Your fascia iliaca compartment
  • Your lumbar sympathetic nerves
  • Select nerves determined by your SSI specialist

Injections at certain key trigger points or facet joints using small amounts of a long-lasting anesthetic and steroids block this pain. This is an effective temporary treatment, especially while you recover from an injury or minor surgery. Precise injections let you exercise and stretch, loosening the tightness and reducing pain while you heal.

Natural Alternatives to Opioids for Back Pain

Finding as many options as possible to consider gives you as much control as possible over the pain in your body. One of the key issues when dealing with pain concerns stress and the subsequent clenched tissues. Exercise and a low-fat diet to reduce your weight help lessen the strain on your tight muscles. You may find other alternatives to opioids through:

  • Dry needling. Using tiny needles to stimulate your nerves is a physical therapy technique. It allows your nerves to signal an increase in your endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller, which disrupts your body’s pain signals.
  • Massage therapy. Whether restful or restorative, the act of kneading and stretching your muscles releases the toxins in kinked tissue, which your body naturally disposes of. Massage also relaxes soreness and increases endorphins.
  • Chiropractic techniques. Manipulation of your spinal column to adjust posture concerns and disruptive muscles spasms corrects contorted structures and relieves kinked or over-compensating muscles.

Your SSI specialist has more options available than ever before to treat your back pain. You no longer have to worry about the side effects of opioids, and you don’t have to live with discomfort. Ask today about safe, effective alternatives to opioids for your back pain.

driving with back pain

Long Distance Driving and Your Back

driving with back painWhether you drive the highways for a living or want to go on an extended road trip, long distance driving involves sitting in the same position for a long time. You’re putting yourself at risk of developing back problems or aggravating back problems you already have. While driving with back pain is unpleasant, the ramifications for future injury are enormous if you don’t take steps now to mitigate any back issues.

The vibration of your vehicle alone puts you at risk for neck, upper back and lower back problems. The more you drive, the more this risk increases. Driving with back pain makes short drives uncomfortable and long distance driving unbearable. The spine specialists at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) can find ways to relieve back pain related to driving with cutting-edge treatments, tips to reduce your discomfort and advice to prevent even more problems.

How Driving Can Be Hard on Your Back

Driving long distance involves not just sitting in one position, but also subjecting your body to movements and vibrations as the vehicle heads down the road. The vehicle speeds up, slows down and turns corners. You may hit potholes or speed bumps or have to come to a sudden stop. During your trip, your body is yanked up and down and side to side, sometimes forcefully.

As a driver, you use your feet for the accelerator, brake pedal and clutch, for a manual transmission vehicle. This means your feet aren’t free to support or stabilize your body. At the same time, vehicle seats don’t usually offer proper lumbar support, so driving with back pain is sometimes caused by the seat itself.

When Driving with Back Pain Is Unavoidable

You may not be able to control the number of hours you have to spend on the road or how much traffic you run into, but you can do some things while driving to decrease the risk of causing new back problems or making existing back problems worse, such as:

  • Make your seat as comfortable as possible. Move your seat close to the steering wheel to prevent slouching. Adjust the back to a more upright position so you can sit properly.
  • Use lumbar support. A small pillow or rolled-up towel behind your back helps provide support to your lumbar spine if your vehicle doesn’t have built-in adjustments.
  • Take frequent breaks. Plan ahead to schedule frequent stops to avoid the stiffness that comes from sitting in one position too long. When you feel your neck and shoulders getting tense, it’s a good time to stop and stretch.
  • Use cruise control. When it’s safe to use cruise control, take advantage of this feature. It allows you to put both feet on the floor to provide stability.

If you’re planning a trip or if you frequently drive long distances, speak to the experts at SSI about the best ways to protect your back. If you’re having back pain caused by long hours driving, the medical professionals as SSI can diagnose the cause of your pain and provide a treatment plan to make driving with back pain a thing of the past. Treatments include:

 

diet and back pain

Can Your Diet Affect Your Back?

diet and back painA healthy diet helps you reach and maintain a normal weight while reducing your risk of many common diseases. What you eat has a dramatic effect on your overall health, creating a straight link between your diet and back pain. If what you’re eating isn’t healthy, it can lead to inflammation that affects many aspects of your health. It can even trigger back pain.

The doctors at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) recommend that you do whatever you can to keep your spine healthy. And that includes being active and making good food choices. An anti-inflammatory diet contains nutritional foods that encourage a healthier back. A healthful diet can reduce back pain that you’re already suffering from.

Food isn’t a miracle drug, however. It takes time for your body to get rid of the bad stuff you’ve been eating. It takes time for your body to get used to the good stuff you’re giving it. Keep it up, and you will notice a difference.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Back Pain Relief

Reduce inflammation in your body by eating a mostly plant-based diet. Replace sugary, refined foods with wholesome, nutrient-rich foods. Include generous amounts of dark-colored fruits and vegetables, starting with dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach. Other good choices for anti-inflammatory foods include:

• Beets
• Broccoli
• Cauliflower
• Sweet potatoes
• Carrots
• Cherries and berries
• Watermelon

Your diet should also include cold-water fish rich in omega-3, such as tuna, trout, black cod, herring, sardines, mackerel and salmon. When you need a snack, reach for walnuts, almonds, pistachios or dark chocolate.

Drink Plenty of Water for Your Back Health

Drinking water is vital for your overall health and well-being. It’s also valuable for the health of your spine. If you become dehydrated, the discs in your spine lose their shock-absorbing ability. Keeping spinal discs well hydrated improves flexibility. Dehydration can also cause muscle cramps and may increase discomfort in your back.

If you work toward increasing the amount of water you consume as part of your diet, your back pain may improve. Have a glass of water first thing in the morning and before each meal. Set reminders on your phone to be conscious of your efforts to drink more water. While some of the fluids you consume can be other liquids such as green tea, aim for half your fluid intake to be pure water. Replacing sugary drinks with water also reduces your calorie intake, assisting with weight loss efforts.

Weight Loss Diet and Back Pain

If you’re carrying excess weight, you may not realize it can contribute to back pain. Being overweight or obese leads to a host of health problems, including fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle strain and joint pain. As your overall health suffers, your back problems increase.

When you carry around excess weight, your muscles need to work harder to accomplish day-to-day tasks. The extra load you put on your spine pulls your vertebrae out of alignment. Weight you carry around your waistline is especially damaging to your spine. Losing weight, particularly if you can stay within 10 pounds of your ideal weight, may result in partial or complete back pain relief.

Talk to the experts at SSI to find out more about the link between diet and back pain. If you find you still suffer from chronic back pain issues that diet doesn’t address, your SSI spine specialist can run some tests to discover the reasons. Your back is in good hands at SSI.

health risks from too little exercise

The Dangers of a Sedentary Lifestyle

health risks from too little exerciseA sedentary lifestyle causes so many health issues that doctors commonly refer to it as the sitting disease. Some 40 to 50 million Americans are shortening their lifespans by just sitting or lying down too much and not doing enough physical activity. Most adults admit their after-work habits include watching TV, reading books, playing video games or browsing on their mobile phones or computers. What’s worse is that children are imitating their parents and developing these unhealthy habits.

Health risks from too little exercise are just as deadly as smoking, with more deaths each year from sitting disease than from cigarettes. Your muscles, especially your back muscles, atrophy, leading to a host of back aches and pain. Lower back pain is the most common complaint as a result.

Health Deterioration

Studies show that sitting still for less than 30 minutes causes damage to the body and blood vessels. In America alone, 300,000 deaths occur annually because of inactivity and poor eating habits. If you don’t move much, most of the food you eat becomes fat, leading to obesity issues, which carries its own health risks. For example, extra weight puts pressure on your spine, hips and legs.

Other health risks from too little exercise include:

  • Decrease in muscle mass, especially in your back
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Lower back pain
  • Eye problems, especially for those glued to their mobile phones or computers
  • Osteoporosis
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Infertility
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Cardiovascular diseases

Physical Health Risks from Too Little Exercise

If you’ve let yourself go in an effort to relax and de-stress after work, you’re not alone. But if you’re starting to feel the physical effects, you need to seek help. Back pain can creep up on you if you’re aware of it. Soon, you’re having trouble sleeping, pulling yourself up out of a chair and experiencing leg cramps just walking up a flight of stairs.

Back pain rarely goes away on its own, but it’s never too late (and never too early) to seek medical assistance and advice. Your issues may be relieved with more exercise, or you may need a non-invasive procedure to correct what’s wrong. Consult a spine specialist like those at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) to help counter your sedentary lifestyle.

A Hinderance to Your Job

Every year, a million Americans complain about back pain caused by their jobs. Having excess weight around your waist and stomach can put you at a greater risk for work-related injuries. Additionally, being overweight can cause leg cramps, fatigue, medical illnesses like diabetes and other serious health scares.

Inactivity at work and at home leads to a greater chance of developing some form of debilitating disease. Lower back pain is the leading cause of disability in the American labor force. To combat the ill effects of back pain, talk to your doctor about all the health risks from too little exercise. And if you’re already suffering from a backache due to your sedentary lifestyle, then consult a back specialist for treatment and lifestyle guidance. Contact SSI.

dog-walking tips

Protect Yourself When You Walk Your Dog

dog-walking tipsOwning a dog is a fun-filled experience, most of the time. But it also comes with responsibilities. For some, especially older dog-owners, walking the dog can be a strenuous physical activity. Your dog could suddenly rush at another dog, even in excitement, or your dog may change direction when you’re not expecting it. If you have to twist or are pulled awkwardly, it can hurt your back.

There are several reasons back pain is a common result from dog walking. If you’re a new dog owner, inexperience is a factor, so seek out dog-walking tips before you even get started. And if you’re over age 65, you may lack the strength and durability to handle a large dog who jerks on the leash when you least expect it.

5 Dog-Walking Tips to Prevent Injuries

Because an excitable dog can pull you in various directions during a walk, you’re advised to train your dog well. It’s possible to take a tumble, jar your back or even sprain an ankle while walking your dog. These five dog-walking tips help you prevent injuries:

  1. Stretch first. Be prepared before walking your dog by stretching. It’s easy to get up and go, but if your muscles aren’t properly warmed up, you increase the risk of an injury should your dog pull you unexpectedly.
  2. Prevent shoulder pain. Your dog can be distracted by any number of things, from a passing car or another animal to leaves blowing in the wind. These distractions can make even trained dogs temporarily forget their training. And if you aren’t paying attention, you may injure your shoulder. Keep your arms loose and at your sides when walking your dog. Pay constant attention to keep you and your dog safe.
  3. Prevent back pain. If you hurt your back, the pain may emanate from your upper, middle or lower back. When walking your dog, keep your back relaxed. A relaxed spine remains flexible if your dog pulls you without warning. Also, maintain a good posture by keeping your core tight. Turn your dog using your body, as opposed to pulling the leash with your arms. Twisting against a resisting force can cause back pain.
  4. Wear proper footwear. One of the best dog-walking tips is important in other aspects of your life too: wear appropriate shoes when out with your dog. If your shoes aren’t supportive and have poor traction, you increase the likelihood of an injury. Avoid wearing heels, flip flops, dress shoes or any other shoes that aren’t cushioned. Traction and comfort are more important than style.
  5. Walking is always the best option. Rollerblading, skateboarding and bike-riding are all great exercise options, but don’t do them while taking out your dog. If you’re going full speed and your dog decides to cut across your path or stop suddenly, one or both of you could suffer a serious injury.

If you’ve already suffered an injury from walking your dog, these dog-walking tips can help you avoid injuries in the future. For help recovering from an injury, contact the Southeastern Spine Institute to get the help you need to return to walking your dog pain-free.

 

when to wear a back brace

When to Consider Wearing a Brace

when to wear a back brace Back pain is one of the most common injuries affecting Americans. If your back is hurting you, go see the spine specialists at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI). It may be that your solution is as simple as learning when to wear a back brace.

At SSI, you have access to a full range of medical expertise. The doctors, surgeons, physical therapists and staff consult with each other to make sure you get the very best care possible. Your spine specialist is a trained professional who can determine your physical limitations and decide whether you’d be helped by wearing a brace.

Injuries That Require a Back Brace

When you injure an ankle or arm, for example, you often wear a cast to brace the injured area until it heals. So that’s when to wear a back brace, too. A brace works like a cast for your injured back. It allows your muscles to heal while you strengthen your posture. Some injuries that benefit from a back brace include:

  • Compression fractures. Also referred to as burst fractures, crush fractures or wedge fractures, these types of injuries happen anywhere in your spine, but they’re most common in your T9 through L1 vertebrae in your lower back. Wearing a brace prevents you from bending, which exacerbates your thoracic and lumbar spine if a fracture is present.
  • This condition occurs because of an abnormal lateral curve of your spine. Wearing a brace can’t fix your condition, but it prevents it from getting worse. Your doctor instructs you when to wear a back brace for this condition.
  • Spinal fractures. If you’ve suffered a spinal fracture, your doctor or surgeon recommends a back brace to immobilize the area, which promotes healing.
  • Degeneration in your spinal discs causes this condition. If you suffer from spondylolysis, your doctor may recommend a Williams brace to limit you from bending side to side.
  • This injury damages the cervical portion of your spine. Wearing a brace is the go-to treatment option, followed by progressive range-of-motion exercises once your condition improves.

When to Wear a Back Brace

You shouldn’t purchase a back brace without first consulting with your doctor. Purchasing a brace that doesn’t fit properly may make your condition worse. Another issue to note is how long and when to wear a back brace each day. If you wear it too often, your back may become dependent on it, weakening your back muscles, which is counterproductive to healing.

Whether you have minimal pain or pain that’s unbearable, you have to use your back brace correctly. When hampered by an injury, you may fall into the habit of becoming too reliant on the brace, which can hinder your recovery. To keep your rehabilitation on the right track, follow some common-sense tips, such as:

  • Talk to your doctor
  • Buy the correct size brace
  • Couple wearing the brace with physical therapy, stretching and light exercise
  • Check to see if your insurance covers a portion or the entire cost of your back brace

If you have more questions, the experts at SSI are available to help. Make an appointment today.

work-related back injuries

How to Deal with Work-Related Back Injuries

work-related back injuriesBack pain is one of the top reasons people miss work. According to the American Bureau of Labor Statistics, a million people suffer from work-related back injuries each year. In total, more than 264 million workdays are lost every year due to back pain. Consulting a spine specialist for your back at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) can keep you productive and out of pain.

Although back pain is a condition that plagues all professions, working in certain vocations puts more strain on your back than others. Talking with a medical back specialist about the kind of movements you do during your daily work routine can reveal what’s causing your bad back. And the sooner you get treatment, the sooner you can get back to work.

Professions with the Worst Back Injury Risks

If you’re working in a high-risk profession for back pain, you need to take extra precautions, as the likelihood of getting hurt is high. The most dangerous professions for unhealthy backs are:

  • Freight, stock and material movers
  • Tractor-trailer truck drivers
  • Construction laborers
  • Farm hands
  • Janitors, cleaners and maids
  • Registered nurses and nursing assistants
  • Beauticians
  • Firefighters
  • Store clerks and bank tellers

Work-Related Reasons for Your Back Pain

The way you move directly effects your back. Some professions are so back-injury prone that safety procedures and training seminars teach workers how to correctly perform their duties. But your spine specialist at SSI can give you tips on how to minimize work-related back injuries.

Factors that affect your back health at work include:

  • Reaching for something while lifting
  • Twisting or bending while lifting
  • Lifting objects that are too heavy for a single person
  • Using force to lift objects, causing muscle spasms
  • Incorrectly lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying heavy loads, especially on stairs
  • Sitting with poor posture continuously
  • Performing repetitive movements like pushing carts or lifting patients from bed
  • Walking with a heavy load, especially on slippery floors
  • Driving heavy trucks or delivery vans day after day
  • Bending for long periods of time
  • Working at a poorly designed workstation

Dealing with Work-Related Back Injuries

About 80 percent of Americans suffer back pain of some kind, with lower back pain the most common affliction. Decreasing your chances of work-related back injuries depends on breaking unhealthy habits. Make healthy lifestyle choices and when at work, perform your duties with care. Lifestyle choices to consider include:

  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce your weight, especially in your waist and abdomen
  • Manage your stress levels
  • Watch for diabetes or high blood pressure symptoms
  • Do more than two hours of exercise per week
  • Stretch your muscles before going to work by practicing yoga or Pilates

You can minimize work-related back injuries by following some common-sense tips, such as:

  • Lift objects correctly, without bending or twisting
  • Wear sensible shoes that don’t slip
  • Learn proper posture for standing and sitting
  • Take mini-breaks from your work to stretch your back muscles
  • Use headphones if you call and type simultaneously
  • Invest in a good chair that supports your spine
  • While driving long distances, take breaks during your journey
  • Don’t pull or push heavy loads suddenly
  • Climb stairs with heavy loads slowly and deliberately
  • And get up and walk whenever you can, especially if you have a desk job

 

5 Signs of Serious Back Problems

back painBack problems are common among Americans. In fact, about 80 percent of adults suffer from low back pain at some point. That means the odds are good you’ve had back pain already.

Low back pain is the leading cause of job-related disabilities. Back pain symptoms most often aren’t acute, so you won’t experience a sudden onset of intense pain. Instead, debilitating pain results from a chronic pain condition that wasn’t immediately addressed. And chronic pain sometimes indicates a serious back problem.

When to Be Concerned About Your Back Pain Symptoms

While you may think your pain is something you can put off, especially if it doesn’t dramatically affect your quality of life, the spine medicine specialists at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) know better. SSI doctors know all the kinds and causes of back pain. Common back pain symptoms include:

  • General achiness in your back
  • Shooting or stabbing pain
  • Pain in one or both of your legs
  • Pain that worsens when you bend, stand, walk or lift something

If your pain results from a herniated disc or degenerative disease in your spine, it can be rectified with appropriate treatment. The pain from these conditions isn’t considered a medical emergency. If left untreated, however, they can become more serious. Contact your doctor immediately if you have serious back pain symptoms, such as:

  • Bowel or bladder problems caused by back pain
  • Back pain coupled with a fever
  • Back pain that causes weakness, numbness or tingling in one or both legs
  • Back pain and unusual weight loss
  • Urinary incontinence

Complications from Serious Back Problems

Bowel or bladder problems that occur from back pain may be a sign of a serious condition called cauda equina syndrome. This sudden onset of bladder and/or bowel incontinence is a side effect of severe compression of an entire nerve sac in your lower spine. Symptoms include:

  • Progressive or severe weakness or different than normal sensations in your legs or feet
  • Altered or complete loss of sensation between your legs or in your inner thighs, buttocks, back of your legs or sacral region
  • Difficulty walking, stumbling due to pain
  • Numbness or weakness in one or both legs

If a fever develops along with your back pain, it may be a sign of multiple serious health issues, including:

  1. Kidney infection. Kidney infections are often the result of a urinary tract infection (UTI) that wasn’t fully treated or left untreated entirely. The bacteria from the UTI then travels through your ureter to infect one or both kidneys. Early signs are back pain and a high temperature.
  2. Osteomyelitis. This is an infection of your spinal column most likely caused by an infection after surgery or septicemia, which is a life-threatening infection in your bloodstream.
  3. Rhabdomyolysis. This rare condition is the death of muscle tissue resulting from strenuous activity. Once your muscles are near failure, toxins are released in your system causing an excessive burden on your kidneys.

A potential reason for unusual weight loss coupled with back pain is renal cell carcinoma or kidney cancer. Symptoms of this disease include unexplained weight loss and pain in the side or back. If you’re experiencing any of these back pain symptoms, contact SSI today to get the treatment you need. It may save your life.

best exercise for your back

Why Walking is the Best Exercise for Your Back

best exercise for your backBack pain is a common problem and one of the top reasons people visit their doctor every year. While you may have the urge to stay in bed if your back hurts, staying active is a much healthier choice. The doctors and physical therapists at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) often recommend walking as the best exercise for your back.

Walking is easy, affordable and has many benefits for your overall health. It doesn’t require a huge time commitment or an expensive gym membership. You don’t need special equipment, and you can do it indoors or outdoors. The path to getting healthier starts by putting one foot in front of the other.

The Benefits of Walking

When you incorporate walking into your routine, you may be surprised to find it helps ease your back pain as well as other aches and pains you’ve been experiencing. It’s also effective in preventing lower back pain before it ever starts. Walking isn’t hard on the joints the way some other types of aerobic exercise can be, which is one of the reasons walking is the best exercise for your back.

Besides helping to relieve back pain, walking improves your balance and coordination and leads to weight loss and bone density improvement. It can even decrease feelings of depression or anxiety. Other benefits of walking include:

  • Strengthening bones and muscles. Walking can help strengthen the muscles and bones in your legs, hips, feet, torso and back. If you’ve been sedentary for a while, you need to start slowly, but you get much stronger with time.
  • Improving flexibility. Stretch before you walk to help with your back’s flexibility and range of motion. This reduces the severity of back pain you’re currently experiencing and may help to prevent future back pain.
  • Stimulating neurotransmitters. One of the reasons walking is the best exercise for your back is that it stimulates the brain to release neurotransmitters such as serotonin. This makes you feel better mentally and reduces the sensation of pain in your back.
  • Improving circulation. Being physically active by walking benefits your circulatory system. Your body’s ability to pump nutrients into tissues and drain toxins improves, which nourishes your spine.

Getting Started with the Best Exercise for Your Back

Before you begin, get the all-clear from your SSI team, especially if you’ve undergone a procedure. Follow their directions and start slowly by walking for maybe 10 minutes a day. Gradually build up distance and speed. Getting started can be as simple as walking around the block, through the mall or on a treadmill.

If you have back pain, it’s important to walk on a flat surface since hills can cause you to lean forward and put strain on your back. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself at the beginning. Practice good posture while walking to prevent back pain.

The best exercise for your back may cause a slight amount of discomfort at first. Your doctors at SSI can guide you through building a walking program that works for you. They can also keep you informed about recognizing your limits and learning what type of pain shouldn’t be ignored. Talk to the experts at SSI about starting a walking program today.

easy yard work tips

Take It Easy When Doing Spring Yard Work

easy yard work tipsIf you’re a homeowner, doing yard work is just something that you do to maintain your home. You may even enjoy it as a relaxing, meditative activity. Doing your own yard maintenance keeps your home attractive and provides a great source of exercise.

But strenuous yard work can lead to health and back problems if you’re not careful. With a little preparation and some common sense, you can be productive in the yard and avoid unnecessary injury. Learn to stay safe. Follow these easy yard work tips, which allow you to have a great yard without overexerting your body.

Preparing for Your Yard Work

If you know the weather on yard work day is going to be hot, consider doing your work early in the morning or in the early evening. Avoiding the heat of the day makes it easier to stay hydrated and avoid exhaustion. When you’re not fighting the sun, you can get more accomplished.

Wear shoes with good support, not flip-flops. The right shoes help relieve back strain while you work in the yard. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water before getting out there. Rehydrate afterward as well. Another of the common-sense, easy yard work tips is to take breaks from working to get a drink and rest in the shade.

Stretch Your Muscles

One of the best easy yard work tips is to do some stretching and warm-up exercises before hitting the yard, especially if you’re preparing to do some heavy work. Walk around the yard, do some jumping jacks and stretch your arms and back. These simple exercises warm up your muscles.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time exercising beforehand. Just five or 10 minutes of stretching helps reduce your risk of a pulled muscle. A few minutes of light exercise can prevent a back injury.

Using Your Outdoor Equipment

Use shoulder straps for heavy tools like your leaf blower. Straps balance the weight around your body so that the equipment you’re using produces less strain on your back. Also, when pushing the lawn mower, use your whole body to move the mower instead of just using your arms and back. Using your legs to push the mower lowers the amount of pressure on your spine.

If you’re using equipment for a long period of time, alternate your stance or switch sides periodically to avoid strain. One of the easiest yard work tips to avoid injury is to shift your body position occasionally so you aren’t straining the same muscles over a long period of time.

A Few More Easy Yard Work Tips

Although you may want to get your yard work done as quickly as possible, remember to take breaks when necessary. Don’t push yourself to exertion. If you experience aching or fatigue, take a break to stretch or just relax for a little bit before getting back to work.

Be familiar with your limits. Listen to your body. A quick break can help your body recover so you can finish your yard work safely. Follow these easy yard work tips, and your yard will look great in no time. When in doubt, ask a spine specialist at the Southeastern Spine Institute how much is too much.