Preparing Your Body for Spring Yardwork


The snow is finally melting for good! El Niño was pretty nice to us this year so back in January, you may have already begun clearing your yard of sticks, leaves and the occasional plastic shopping bag from your neighbor’s yard. However, there is always something left to pick up once the last piles of snow melt away. It’s going to feel great to work outside again, but what about the morning after your first “yard/outdoor workout?” The reason people often become sore after the first spring clean-up is they haven’t had to bend and move that way for months. Sure you shoveled your driveway or took your snow blower for a walk down the block, but those activities use entirely different muscle groups than we use when going all the way to the ground. Spring clean-up demands you really use the muscles that you may have been neglecting.


How about a little pre-season workout to get ready? The Brewers are doing it right now (not that it will help them in a re-building year), so why not you?


Here are a few simple exercises to get your body back into yard-work form before you slip on those grass-stained sneakers or garden Crocs. Keep in mind if your muscles and joints are healthy, none of these exercises should cause any pain. But, if you have any pain doing these exercises, please come talk to one of our knowledgeable physical therapists for a free consultation www.franklinrehab.com/free-screening and we will be happy to tell you what you need to do to get your joints and muscles moving safely.


Be sure to warm up with a brief walk around the block or go up and down stairs a few times to get the blood flowing. Warm muscles stretch more easily than cold ones and it is less likely you will strain something.


Next, do a couple of stretches to the areas of your body that are most vulnerable to bending down when working in the yard. Here are three examples:




Now, do a couple of exercises to help strengthen your core and legs and prepare you for bending to pick up sticks and debris, hauling out planters or bending to clean out the leaf-scum at the bottom of the heart-shaped hot tub on your deck.




Finally, practice your mechanics with bending. The best way to bend is to keep your feet flat on the ground and drop your hips as you reach with your hand(s) for items that line up between your toes. That simply means that you should not try to pick things up unless they are centered between your feet (that would be twisting and your back will express its disapproval tomorrow morning). For repetitive bending, use the golfer’s lift (pictured below). Not only is it a good way to pick things up from the ground, it is also a beneficial exercise to do. Be sure to do all of the aforementioned exercises every day between now and the time you start your yard cleanup, and trust us, your back will thank you.


If you feel a bit off-balance when you try the golf lift exercise, it is not normal. Call us and request a free balance screening so we can explain why you wobble.


Spoiler alert: It is not because of age (age has very little to do with worsening balance. Instead, it is more than likely from one of the three main systems our bodies depend on for balance).


That wasn’t so bad, was it? Just remember, any exercise you do has the ability to create pain if done the wrong way, so listen to your body and contact one of the PTs at Franklin Rehab if you need any help.