5 back-friendly ways to spend Labor Day

Marathon.A three-day weekend is upon you, but you’re already expecting your back pain to keep you stuck on a lawn chair watching everyone else have fun. Sound familiar? Whether you’re dealing with a strain or sprain, are recovering from back surgery or a back injury, or are living with arthritis, scoliosis or another back condition, pain doesn’t have to impede you from living your life. Check out five ways to enjoy your bonus Sunday while still being friendly to your back.

Hit the green. Golf isn’t automatically a no-go for people with back pain. Just know your limits. Take a cart if walking long distances is painful, and make sure to stretch before you pick up a club. In fact, integrating a daily stretching routine will help you maintain your flexibility and prevent future back injuries. You can find five back-strengthening exercises here. Plus, learn how to properly swing a golf club here.

Walk a 5K. There’s no rule that says you have to run like an Olympic athlete to sign up for a 5K race. If you’ve never participated in one before, you may be surprised to see how many people choose to walk them. While some people with back pain are able to run, others find that low-impact aerobic exercise is less jarring on the spine. Walking is not only a great workout for your whole body, it also helps release endorphins (typically after 30-40 minutes), which are your body’s natural painkillers. Endorphins also help to elevate your mood and relieve depression.

Build a house. Why not honor Labor Day by laboring for a good cause? Sure, building an entire house may seem a bit overly ambitious, but through organizations like Habitat for Humanity, you can do your part for a day, or several days, by helping out at a home build. Bonus: This is a great activity for the whole family. From framing a home, to painting walls, to planting a garden, there are plenty of less strenuous tasks you can take on that won’t hurt your back. Just keep in mind these tips: Make sure to do plenty of stretching before starting any activity. Choose a job that won’t require you be hunched over for an extended period of time. When you need to lift something, do so by bending your legs, not by bending at the waist and lifting with your back, which can cause additional strain. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. And, make sure to stop if something is causing your back pain to worsen.

Make your own backyard games. Even if you don’t have a pool, you can still have fun with your family outside and get the added bonus of exercise. Aerobic exercises—those that get the heart pumping—increase blood flow to your back, providing nutrients that can help heal and decrease stiffness. Take a look at these five creative ideas for backyard games.

Indulge in some pampering. Say goodbye to summer by scheduling a day of pampering and relaxation for you and your partner or a friend. It’s not just an excuse to sip champagne by a pool, either—make sure to spring for a massage, which is beneficial to your overall health. Massage therapy can improve circulation to your back, relax your muscles and increase your endorphin levels.

Take these tips and enjoy your holiday weekend surrounded by friends and family. Be kind to your back, and be sure to consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen or activity.

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