Be A Pain-Free Weekend Yard Warrior!
Autumn provides plenty of pleasant days to enjoy all the outdoor activities of the season. It’s also our last chance to get the lawn and gardens in top shape before cold weather settles in. We can get in shape in the process while weeding, trimming, spreading fertilizer or mulch, planting trees, or raking leaves. Gardening activities not only burn calories, but when executed properly: the stretching, bending, lifting and squatting we do provide good exercise. Beneficial to our overall fitness, working in the soil can also help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.
Is raking leaves on your list of chores this fall?
When performed correctly, raking can help build upper-body strength. Avoid straining your back in the process by practicing proper body mechanics. Follow these tips to protect your musculoskeletal system.
- Raking is moderate exercise. It’s important to warm up and stretch your muscles before and after all types of exercise, to prevent injury.
- An accumulation of leaves on the ground may be disguising a hole, branch or stone. Don’t step into a pile of leaves to avoid spraining your ankle or other injury.
- Rely on the strength of your arms, shoulders, and legs to do the work for you when raking. Protect your vulnerable lower back.
- Change hands, raking right-handed part of the time, and then left-handed, to avoid repetitive, overuse muscle injury.
- Rake using forward and backward motions only. Don’t rake from side-to-side.
- Don’t twist at the waist when raking. To reach something with your rake at the 2:00 or 10:00 position, pivot your whole body instead, so you are continuously raking directly ahead.
- Keep your spine erect. Correct posture is essential to maintain, even when raking. Don’t stretch or lean forward when raking; doing so makes your lower back especially vulnerable to injury.
- Squat, keeping your back straight, instead of bending over to pick up leaves or lift objects.
Don’t bend over when working in the soil, flower beds, garden and lawn. Squat or kneel instead
Avoid straining your back. Instead of bending over to pull weeds or to spread mulch around plants, spread your feet apart and squat, if possible. If squatting isn’t an option, instead of bending at the waist, kneel on a cushion placed on the ground, to avoid knee injury.
Back-Saving Tip for Collecting Fallen Leaves
Gathering fallen leaves is easy when you lay a large sheet of canvas or tarp on the ground. Rake fallen leaves directly onto the canvas. When raking is completed, have another person stand on the opposite side of the tarp. Both of you squat and gather corners together and lift. Carry the tarp together to the compost, burn pile or trash.
Take preventative measures to stay fit. Regular chiropractic care will help reduce the likelihood of incurring painful sprains and strains, back problems and other musculoskeletal injuries. Proper spinal alignment increases joint stability and decreases your chance of incurring back issues.
Your chiropractor can also prescribe specific warm up stretches for you as well as demonstrate the proper way to bend and lift objects. Discuss this with him or her during your next appointment.
Implementing proper body mechanics will help prevent sore, aching muscles and back pain. It will take a conscience effort to practice proper body mechanics, performing routine tasks and chores differently than you have a habit of doing. If you incur back pain while bending or working, seek a chiropractic evaluation. Here’s to a stronger, healthier you!