Finally! It’s time for fall clean-up!
After an odd interval of snow and freezing temps, we’re back to gorgeous fall days. Our usual fall clean up was interrupted and now we’re down to the wire with a week to get everying done. Fall clean up including raking leaves, bagging leaves, and cutting plants back is a common cause of pain if not completed correctly. Here are 5 tips to help reduce pain and properly complete your fall cleanup.
1. Stretch before completing the outdoor work
Stretching is a large component in reducing the risk of injury to your body. Complete a series of stretching before completing your outdoor work to help warm up your muscle tissue and get your blood flowing. Tight muscles going into an activity are more likely to be strained if overused or used incorrectly.
2. Reduce twisting motions and switch arms when raking
Bending, lifting, and twisting are three of the worst things for our spine when not done correctly. To reduce this risk, rake leaves with your arms and your shoulders rather than twisting with your back. Another common way to overuse your muscles is by raking with your dominant side only. Try raking with your opposite side to reduce the risk of overuse.
3. Lift with your legs and not your back
Raking all those leaves into a massive pile means having to put them into bags that need to be brought to the curb as well. Although leaves may not weigh a ton, the repetitive motion of bending over to pick them up can be detrimental to our low back. When we bend forward at our hips, we put extra pressure on those discs in our lower back. Make sure to engage your core muscles and squat down with your legs to pick of the leaves. Finally, make sure to carry those leaf bags close to you when you are carrying them to the curb.
4. Break up the activity into shorter sessions or multiple days
An easy way to cause an overuse injury is completing an activity that we do not commonly complete, an activity that requires repetitive movements, and completing said activity for an extended period. Make sure to spread your outdoor clean up into 30-60 minutes sessions with a break in between. It would be even more beneficial to complete yard clean up over the period of multiple days: Rake leaves one day, cover with a tarp, and bag the next day.
5. Drink plenty of water!
Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water throughout your activities. You may not feel as thirsty with there being a fall chill in the air, but this is a quick way to become dehydrated. Hydration will help your body and muscles heal quicker and will help decrease the chance of muscle cramps. Try following the six to eight 12oz glasses of water daily rule.
I hope these five tips can help you stay healthy and reduce your risk of injury while completing your fall clean up. If after completing your yard work, you have any lasting aches or pains, come see our chiropractic or physical therapy team, and we can help you get back on track before all of the heavy snow shoveling just around the corner! Happy Fall!
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