Spring is here, and that means it will soon be time to plant your garden, clean out the gutters and pull weeds in the yard. If you’re like most people, you become more active when the weather gets warmer, but that uptick in activity can also do damage to your spine. Below, we share five tips for keeping your back injury free when you’re doing some spring cleaning.

Back exercises can also help protect you spine by strengthening the spinal column and the supporting muscles, ligaments, and tendons. See Back Strengthening Exercises

Spring Cleaning and Spine Care

Before you dive into any activity, you’ll want to give your spine some consideration. Here are some tips to consider prior to jumping into spring activities.

See 8 Tips for a Healthy, Active Spring

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1. Stretch. Stretching is very important before any physical activity, as it allows for your muscles and tissues to ease into an active state. Start with your head and neck and work your way down through your spine and to your legs. If you overexert yourself without giving your back time to warm up, you’ll be predisposing yourself to injuries like muscle sprains and disc issues.

See Stretching for Back Pain Relief

2. Use proper techniques. If you’re moving bags of soil to the backyard garden or removing heavy equipment from your garage, make sure you are practicing proper lifting techniques. Bend at your knees, not at the waist, and for heavier items, ask a friend to help you move the object. If you are torqueing or twisting your back at unhealthy angles, you’re more likely to damage an area of your spine.

See Avoid Back Injury with the Right Lifting Techniques

3. Break up the work. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t expect to plant the garden, reseed the lawn, clean the gutters and empty the work shed all in one day. Break up tasks over the course of a few days or weeks so that you’re not overworking your spine. If your back starts to hurt, take a short break, and if it continues to hurt, end your work for the day.

See Early Treatments for Lower Back Pain

4. Grab a friend. Not only will an extra person help the work finish quicker, but it’s also helpful to have a spotter if you need to do any work on a ladder. Always make sure you have someone to hold a ladder in place so it doesn’t slip, because a fall from only a few feet can do a lot of damage to your spine.

See Spinal Anatomy and Back Pain

5. Stay aware. You may notice some general discomfort in your spine if you’ve been working hard for a while, but if pain increases or you suffer an acute injury, stop what you’re doing. If you know something is wrong, set up a consultation with a spine specialist as soon as possible. If you think it’s just a strain or sprain, care for the injury with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications. If pain doesn’t decrease over the next few days, consider heading in for a check-up to get to the root of the problem.

See Pulled Back Muscle and Lower Back Strain

Following these tips can help you enjoy the spring season without nagging back pain.

See Lower Back Pain Symptoms

Learn more:

Specialists Who Treat Back Pain

Causes of Lower Back Pain