Doctor of Physical Therapy, Justin Yeung
Tips to help you safely “bend forward” during yard cleanup season.
Optimize efficient biomechanics and avoid repetitive stress injuries to the back, hip, knee, etc.
The combination of cleaning up fallen leaves and debris, pulling out the vegetable gardens, and storing tools for the winter, can take a toll on the body.
If you regularly experience pain following these tasks, try some of the following tips on “bending forward” to optimize efficient biomechanics and avoid repetitive stress injuries to the back, hip, knee, etc…
1. Start with a Wider Base of Support:
If you are more susceptible to loss of balance, taking a wider base of support can improve your overall stability in standing.
Tip: A wider base may allow you to bend forward without being as limited by tightness into the back of the thighs and legs.
2. Utilize a Hip Hinge Strategy:
Initiate a hip hinge by sticking your tailbone back. Maintaining a flat back, you will want to flex your hips forward and keep a slight bend in knees as you reach the ground.
Tip: It is important to engage your abdominals and gluteals throughout the motion to avoid overloading the lower back.
3. Square Off Your Hips:
It may seem obvious to want to square your hips off towards the direction you intend to reach forward, but that concept can often be forgotten when you are in the motion.
Tip: Try to avoid reaching forward over one leg, as that can overstress the hip and back, especially if performed repetitively.
4. Perform a Warm-up:
Though not related to “bending forward,” I would recommend performing a warm-up prior to a long afternoon of yard cleanup.
Tip: This can consist of going for a walk or even performing a set of light stretches.
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