With the recent passing of the Autumn Equinox, it means that leaves will begin collecting on the ground. “At this time of year we see quite a few patients arriving to Mind Body Spine with low back pain, neck pain and shoulder injuries from raking leaves and the fall clean up,” says Victoria, BC Chiropractor Dr. Stephanie Louie. It is important to practice good habits the will keep the body injury free while maintaining the yard and getting it ready for winter. Below are 5 tips to making sure that you will avoid hurting yourself during the fall raking season.
- Warm Up – As a general rule of thumb, warming up the body before any type of activity is a good way to try to keep safe. Get the heart rate pumping and muscles warm for at least 5 – 10 minutes before starting the activity. If you have a wobble chair, this will help warm up the muscles, ligaments and discs and is an ideal way to warm up the body.
- Use Both Sides of the Body to Rake – Try to rake a few leaves on the right side of the body and then switch the rake to the left side of the body. It may be challenging at first, but this will allow both sides of the body to put in an equal amount of work and effort in, so that one side of the body does not get overdeveloped, fatigued, or create an overuse injury. Both sides of the body should be worked as symmetrical as possible.
- Avoid Twisting – Do not twist the body, especially when carrying loads. This is hard on the back and can cause injury. Instead move your feet to change direction.
- Use Proper Lifting Techniques – Be sure to bend at the knees and hinge at the hips when lifting objects. You will want to make sure the spine is in a neutral position. This will help you avoid straining the back and putting too much pressure on your discs.
- Don’t Overdo It – Know when it is time to quit and return to the activity at another time. So many times, we just want to get the job done even when our body is telling us that it is tired. Try to take breaks and listen to the body when it is fatigued. It’s common to use improper techniques when the body is tired, which can lead to injures such as low back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain.
Remember, yard work can be very rewarding but it is a work out for the body. Drink plenty of water and make sure to get to give yourself adequate time to recover before doing anymore physical activity.
The suggestions and advice provided by Dr. Louie should not be relied upon in place of a chiropractic professional assessment.