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Protect Your Back While Grilling

This is how you can avoid muscle soreness and keep your back and neck healthy while grilling.

There is a great deal of information already available on grill safety, such as how to avoid accidents, burns, and injuries while using the BBQ. (Always use correct grilling safety habits and remove pets from the area while grilling.) However, this article will be focused on how to protect the muscles of the neck, shoulders, mid back, and low back while grilling outdoors. This information can be used by people who already have a history of back and neck pain. The tips in this article can also be used by people who have no aches or pains whatsoever. The primary focus of this article is to demonstrate how to enjoy grilling without putting extra strain on the shoulders, neck, and back.

Grilling can be a relaxing, fun, and enjoyable activity that can be shared with family and friends. There are few things as appealing as the mouth-watering aroma of food being grilled to perfection. Grilling is a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors on a nice sunny day. Here are some ideas to keep in mind and tips to protect the shoulders, back, and neck when using an outdoor grill:

  • Stand on a stable flat surface. Both the grill and person doing the grilling should remain on a flat, solid surface. The grill should be level. This is not only important for safety, but to enable the person grilling to maintain good posture, and prevent them from leaning to one side and placing more weight on one side of the body than the other.

  • Stand with weight equally distributed on both feet. As stated above, proper posture is important when grilling. Avoid standing with more weight shifted to one leg than the other. Don’t stand on one leg or prop up a leg on the bottom of the grill.

  • Avoid slouching and rounding of the shoulders. Make effort to keep both shoulders level and not too far forward. Slouching can put unnecessary pressure on the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and upper back. By keeping the shoulders back and the spine straight, a person can remain more relaxed and can enjoy grilling for a longer period of time.

  • Keep all platters, utensils, and food items within arm’s reach. When grilling with a small grill, this is not as important. However, when using a sizable grill, keep the spatula, fork, tongs, basting brush, or any other utensils close by. This avoids reaching across the hot surface of the grill and helps the person grilling to keep correct posture. Try to keep your elbows close to the body when carrying heavy platters or coolers.

  • Stay hydrated. (Alcoholic beverages are enjoyed during many BBQs but will not keep you hydrated.) Drink a tall glass of water early on during the cook-out to provide plenty of hydration during the grilling session. This keeps a person feeling refreshed. It also prevents headaches and muscle cramps. Often, by the time symptoms of dehydration are noticed, there is danger of heat exhaustion.

  • Wear protective footwear that offers good arch support. Avoid wearing flip-flops when grilling. If a piece of hot food, sharp utensil, or heavy jar of BBQ sauce falls, it’s best to be wearing a pair of closed-toe shoes. Try to use shoes that provide proper arch support. This makes it more comfortable to stand and protects the feet from fatigue.

  • Stand with the grill directly in front of you. The person grilling should be able to reach both sides of the grill without having to step to one side or the other. It’s also best to not stand at an angle with one hip closer to the grill than the other. This can cause unnecessary strain on the hips and lower back.

  • Try not to hyperextend your back. Having good core strength helps you to be able to grill longer without feeling fatigued. Basically, it’s best to try not to have a “pot belly” look when grilling. Keep the spine straight and avoid over-arching the lower back.

  • Don’t lock the knees when grilling. People who lock their knees when standing for long periods can experience symptoms such as: lightheadedness, vertigo, and fainting. Locking the knees can also cause excessive stress on the knee joints. The knees often act as shock absorbers for the back. If the knees are locked, the biomechanics of the low back can be affected.

  • Don’t stay in the same position too long. Take a step back after positioning the food on the grill. Occasionally walk around the grill to keep the muscles of the legs and back from getting tight.

  • If possible, have a chair nearby. For foods that grill slowly, a chair can be used to give the legs a break. Select a sturdy chair that offers back support. This allows the person grilling to be comfortable during long grilling sessions.

  • Use BBQ tools that are the correct length. In this age of online stores and internet shopping, anyone can easily order grilling utensils that fit comfortably in the hand and are of the necessary length for reaching across a large grilling surface. Having longer tools not only protects the griller from burns but also protects the shoulder muscles from overuse.

  • If you start to feel sore when grilling, there are a number of things that can be done: First, have another person take over grilling for a while, or alternate grilling with a trusted friend or family member. Next, stretch the tired muscles of your neck, back, arms, and legs. Sit down for a while. Give your body a bit of time to relax.

An important way to get ready for the grilling season is to schedule an appointment with a local chiropractor. The chiropractor can assess posture and gently correct any small misalignments of the spine and skeleton. This will allow the joints to move more smoothly. Many people notice that they have fewer muscle aches and less muscle stiffness after seeing a chiropractor.

Hopefully these tips and suggestions will help people enjoy more hours using an outdoor grill. Grilling is a fun past-time that can be a pleasurable activity during the warmer months. It’s a great way to socialize with friends and family.

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