Chiropractic Care to Help Save Your Back While Raking Leaves
The splendor of the fall season is the brightly colored foliage. Unfortunately, that beauty falls away, and you’re left to rake it all up! But before you march outside with rake in hand, you’ll want to take care to avoid injury and steer clear of starting the holiday season laid up from simple yard work.
Think about it. If a little game of pick-up football or a round of golf with friends and family in the crisp autumn air can cause injury, then so could fall yard work.
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) concurs: “The twisting, turning, bending and reaching of mowing and raking can also cause injury if your body is not prepared. Like an athlete, if you leap into something without warming up or knowing how to do it, [then] the chances of injury are greater.”
The most common injuries from raking leaves are upper- or lower-back strain, neck strain and pain in the shoulders. So how do you avoid back strain while raking leaves this fall?
Tips to Avoid Injury from Fall Yard Work
According to ACA, there are several ways to avoid back injury and strain while doing fall yard work, and many of them have to do with proper stretching, correct technique and ergonomic tools:
- Warm up and Cool down: Stretching without bouncing for 10 to 15 minutes before and after yard work will help keep your body safe from strain and pain. Ideal exercises to warm up and cool down include knee-to-chest pulls, trunk rotations, side bends and a short walk to stimulate circulation.
- Stay Upright: While raking, stand as straight as possible without hunching your back, and avoid bending your head. A “scissors” stance is recommended: placing right foot forward and left foot back for a few minutes, then reversing and putting your left foot forward and right foot back.
- Rake Leaves and Grass into Small, Manageable Piles: This decreases the risk of back strain. Then transfer the leaves into bags by bending at the knees, not the waist.
- Wear Supportive Shoes: Footwear featuring proper support can prevent strain from affecting your back.
- Mow with Your Whole Body: Push the mower with your whole body, not just your arms and back. In addition, if your mower has a pull cord, then start it by bending at the knees and pulling in one smooth motion.
- Stay Hydrated and Protected: Drink plenty of water, and wear a hat, protective glasses, and gloves. Wearing a mask is smart if you have allergies, and so is wearing hearing protection if your equipment is loud.
- Take Advantage of Cool, Autumn Air: Avoiding the midday heat is recommended.
These tips and tricks will help keep you healthy through the fall season. However, if you do feel soreness or stiffness in your back, then use ice to soothe the discomfort. If there’s no improvement in two to three days, then see your chiropractor.
How Chiropractors Can Help
Chiropractors, such as Dr. Todd Goldman at Total Chiropractic Care and Wellness, can assess your situation, diagnose and treat a wide range of musculoskeletal injuries, including those sustained from a day of raking leaves. Medford chiropractor Dr. Goldman can also get you started with a regular regimen of chiropractic care and pain management.
He follows evidenced-based treatment procedures that begin with diagnostic exams to precisely determine the cause of your pain. The adjustments the doctor provides his patients are based on his diagnostic findings and address the underlying musculoskeletal misalignments triggering a patient’s pain, rather than simply “masking” these symptoms with medication.