Between heavy lifting, bending, moving equipment and using hand tools, it is very easy to strain muscles while winterizing your lawn. Following a few best practices will help to protect your back from injury, while you are protecting your lawn from winter.
The best prevention for back pain is getting regular exercise. If the first physically strenuous activity you attempt for a long time is lifting a bag of fertilizer to feed your lawn, the risk of injury is significantly higher than if you have a well maintained core. This can be as simple as taking regular walks, climbing stairs or swimming.
Before you begin the yard work, take some time to gently stretch your muscles. When you do this, don’t just focus on stretching your back. Remember that your entire muscular system is connected, and if your leg muscles are tight and inflexible, they will put strain on your back, leading to pain. The same thing goes for your neck and shoulder muscles; get them stretched out before starting work.
The first thing you are going to do to winterize the lawn is spreading a layer of fertilizer. Since this will occur at the beginning of the activity, preferably immediately after stretching, be extra careful since you will not be fully warmed up yet. When lifting heavy bags of fertilizer, bend at your knees, and hold the bag close to your body. Use your legs to lift.
When removing the spreader from its home in the back of your shed, make sure you are not straining to lift it over a pile of junk on the floor. While using the spreader, maintain an upright posture to prevent back pain. Leaning into the spreader to push, will quickly fatigue your back muscles leading to pain.
Aerating your lawn is accomplished with either a motorized aerator or a low tech pogo manual aerator. The manual type will give you a good work out, but if you are careful not to trip over it, it is less likely to strain your back. Motorized units are heavy, and they require substantial strength to operate. Lugging around a heavy machine is far more likely to end in back pain.
Finally, when spreading grass seed and raking the lawn, follow the same principles as discussed for spreading fertilizer. By working with an attitude of prevention, you can keep winterizing your lawn, from becoming a pain in your back.