Spring A Pain in the Neck

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April rains bring May pains, as we do typically treat more back and shoulder pain when yard work comes back in season. We also seem to see more neck pain this time of year. Why is that?


Everyone has heard about lifting mechanics. Say it with me now, "lift with the legs and not the back." Few actually do that and do it correctly. Sometimes other lifting strategies are more practical. For the sake of illustration, here's a quick video quiz on lifting.

And the correct answer is...



...let's pause for a commercial break.

[Waiting patiently, looking at the clock...]
What's the best way to lift? Final answer?
The answer is:

It depends.

Some lifting strategies are better than others.

None of them suit all situations.

All of them can easily be performed incorrectly.

Here's why:

A - The CLASSIC. You know rounding the spine is hard on the back. Lifting with the arms while flexed over may also cause a lot of compression on the lower neck. Yet The Classic may be needed when space is limited, if you have a sore knee, or when you need to reach over an electric fence.

B - The ROBOT is lifting with the legs to keep the spine in a strong neutral position. But do you have the strength and range of motion to get down there like that? I often see The Robot done in a manner that's killer on the knees when hip or ankle flexibility is lacking:

The Robot gone wrong causes a lot of strain on the knees and neck.

Even if you can do The Robot correctly, is it worth the effort; the sacrifice of time and efficiency? Anyone who performs repetitive lifting at work will tell you that The Robot is not always practical.

The Robot is essential when you have to perform heavy lifting. It's also a killer move to break out at your next 80's dance party.

C - THE SWAN causes minimal loading to the back and neck, but at what cost? Do you think grandma has the balance to pull this off while standing on a sloped yard full of tree roots? Is The Swan good for lifting a heavy rehab stick or a moving target, like, say, a toddler?

A bad idea.
The Swan can't handle heavy lifts. Here Kim demonstrates The Swan in the appropriate technique and setting:

D - The LUNGE distributes the lift over the entire body. I like the lunge. A little bend at the knee and hip and back allows for lots of leg loading without extreme postures at any one joint. While the lunge is likely your best bet for picking up sticks in the yard, it still requires balance, strength, and flexibility of the ankle, knee, hip, and trunk.

That's where the sore neck comes in. The point is that any of these lifts can result in neck irritation when there's weakness or inflexibility elsewhere in the body. The neck is sore, but it's not the necks "fault."

If you need some incentive to maintain your body, train for yard work as if you were an athlete. Work on your trunk and leg flexibility, strength, and balance. It takes a whole body to save a neck.

If you don't have a good rehab stick, while supplies last, they're available in my backyard for free.

Happy Spring!

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1 comment:

  1. wow that was a tremendous, earth-shattering piece of writing, bob. But The Robot needs more pop-n-lock action.