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Is spring cleaning and yard work a pain in the neck…or back, or butt? It could be caused by spinal stenosis.

You may be thinking, “What is spinal stenosis?” Spinal Stenosis is when the space in your spine where the spinal cord is, or where your nerves come out from the spine, is decreased and causes the nerves to become irritated or pinched with certain motions. This is usually caused by osteoarthritis or degeneration due to age. Extension (backward bending) of the spine usually increases the symptoms such as; pain in the back or neck or pain traveling down the leg or arm. Therefore, things like standing, walking, cleaning out top shelves, and kneeling to pull weeds or plant while looking and reaching ahead can cause pain. Here are some tips to help you avoid a flare up this spring: · Lift with your legs- At the end of the day it should be your legs and butt that are tired, not your back; get close, get low, get a friend if needed, and use your legs. · Push and pull with your legs- If you’re going to do pulling chores (like raking or sweeping) or pushing chores (like mowing or vacuuming) make sure your core is held tight and the force and movement comes from your feet and legs, not your back. “Dance” with the rake or vacuum.

· Neutral back and neck with activities- This one goes out to all the window washers, overhead painters, weed pullers, flower planters, and nook and cranny cleaners. Use your abdominals and keep your chin tucked slightly to make sure you don’t over extend your low back or neck while reaching overhead or while kneeling and reaching out in front of you. A half kneel can be used when gardening to allow mobility and shifting the weight through your legs. The rule is to do your best to keep things at a height between your chest and your knees to keep your back and neck safe. · Use proper equipment and tools- Tools were made to help us, so use them! There are several companies that make “ergonomic” gardening tools that have thicker handles requiring less grip and are angled to put your body at a better advantage for digging or pulling out roots. Use a small, sturdy step ladder to reach high places, a gardening pad for neeling, and a wheelbarrow to move debris. · Take breaks- When people get tired good posture and body mechanics start to falter so take 5 and hydrate!

www.mainephysicaltherapy.com Is stenosis or other pain complicating your life? Call or go online today to schedule a FREE consultation at any of our 5 locations!

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