Be careful when doing spring yard clean-up

Q: We had one nice day and I could not help but get out into the yard and work. Of course I overdid it and I am stiff all through my back and I have pain in my buttock that makes the back of my leg ache to my calf. Is this sciatica? Can it be helped without surgery? How can I prevent from doing this to myself?

A: Spring is here and the urge to get out in the fresh air and clean up the yard is a strong and understandable one. But after a sedentary winter, don’t overdo it. And though power tools can take some of the physical stress out of the work, they pose their own potential for injury. The American Chiropractic Association recommends these precautions: If the equipment has a strap that helps with control and balance, be sure to use it. Loop the strap over your head onto the shoulder opposite the side on which you’re going to use the equipment. Change sides and your stance periodically to balance the strain on muscles.

Take regular breaks. If you’re in the market to buy clippers, an edger, trimmer or blower, bear in mind that electric-driven models are generally lighter than those with gas-powered motors. Hold the device as close as possible when using it. And when picking it up or putting it down, bend at the knees — not the waist. Let your legs do the heavy lifting. If you do overdo it, a visit to a chiropractor could be a good way to get yourself back into comfortable alignment. A chiropractor can also show you some exercises to keep yourself ready for physical activity.

For the specific pain you describe, the answer is probably yes that it is sciatica. And very likely yes it can be helped without surgery. Sciatica is usually caused by a tight muscle under your gluteals that goes from your hip to your pelvis and it is stretching over the sciatic nerve causing it to swell and ache. Sciatica is commonly considered a problem from the spine and this is not accurate as that would be better described as radiculitis, or radiating pain from a swollen disc. This may be the issue but is less likely and still should rarely be a surgical fix. Try the above recommendations to get feeling better and to prevent the issue from returning.

Trembush’s office and providers volunteer community health talks free to the public of the Morgantown area on the following topics and dates. Each speaker is a representative of The Foundation for Wellness Professionals. We can also be reached at 304-225-9355 for questions regarding this community health service if your organization is interested in wellness speakers.

For any of our scheduled talks, you can reserve your spot by calling the number above or log on to and sign up.

Upcoming talks:

— Stem cells, 6 p.m. June 5.

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