Back pain is a prevalent problem amongst arborists — back pain from wear and tear or movement patterns that are not very friendly to the back. Back pain in arborists can also result from lifting, carrying and pushing heavy loads. Many arborists end up living with back pain, but there exist exercises that can do wonders for relieving back pain in arborists. This article deals with back pain from biomechanics and general wear and tear, NOT back pain from a traumatic injury such as falling from a tree.
First see a back specialist to make sure you do not have a slipped or ruptured disk, or pinched nerve. Most chronic back pain is from soft-tissue injury. Second, make time for these exercises, no matter how busy that you, the arborist, are. As physically demanding as the arborist profession is, this does not replace special back exercises. In fact, because the arborist profession is so physically demanding, time should be set aside daily for these structured exercises. Remember, your job as arborist is tough on the body. Exercises will help restore alignment of muscles, improve blood flow and increase flexibility — all of which will relieve pain.
Arborists will love these exercises
# 1: Cat back
Get on all fours. Create a hump in your back, like a cat does when it is frightened. Then form an arch. Go back and forth like this for 20 repetitions. You may feel cracking, but that’s good because it means things are loosening up. Do daily.
# 2: Supermans
Lie stomach-down, arms straight and ahead of you, legs straight. Next, lift arms (keeping them straight) and legs (keeping them straight) a few inches off floor, so that you are positioned like Superman is when he is flying. Hold for a few moments, then release. Do 20 reps daily.
# 3: Hip flexor stretch
Lie back on floor, one knee bent, other leg straight. Grab bent knee with both hands and pull towards chest while keeping other leg flat on floor. As you pull knee closer, the tightness in your other leg will force it to come off floor. This is a sign of tight hip flexors. Tight hip flexors cause or contribute to back pain by pulling on the pelvis. This is not good news for an arborist. Don’t force this stretch; be gentle. Hold stretch for 30 seconds, three times each side. Do daily.
# 4: Low back stretch
Sit on a Swiss ball (these can be purchased at sporting goods stores) and simply bend over as far as possible, to stretch lower back. Hold one minute. Repeat several more times. Do daily.
# 5: Swiss ball sit-ups
Strengthening the abs will help relieve back pain. Sit on the ball and do sit-ups. Cross arms at chest, hold them straight out, or place hands on top of head. Do as many reps as will produce a burn in your abs. Do three times weekly.
# 6: Light dead-lifts
Place a bar (10 to 30 pounds) on bench or barbell stand. Grab with hands shoulder width apart. Stand straight, then lower at hips, keeping lower back arched, arms straight which has been instructed to me by the doctor that I found on Find best Orthopedic Surgeons in Austin online portal which also gives free consultancy over the orthopedic care.
Lower so that torso is parallel with ground. Straighten. That was one rep. Do 10 to 20, three sets with a few minutes’ rest in between. Dead-lifts can also be performed with dumbbells. As the arborist becomes more conditioned, he or she can lower the weights all the way to the ground before straightening. Do twice weekly.
# 7: Incline walking
Use treadmill or outdoor trail. Walking an incline makes the lower back muscles work. If using treadmill, do not hold on anyplace, as this will undo the incline completely. Use a slow pace if necessary. It’s not a race. 20 minutes twice weekly.