What image comes to mind when you turn your calendar to October? Is it pumpkin spice coffee and Halloween pumpkins? Warm sweaters and a fire pit in the backyard? Those are all comforting and cozy, but if the first thing you think of is raking leaves and the accompanying back pain, you’re not alone. The colorful fall leaves quickly become a mess on your yard, and though kids may see a pile of leaves as fun things to jump into, for most of us raking leaves can lead to back pain.
If fall cleanup has been a problem for you in the past, here are some recommendations from our lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey to help you protect yourself from pain this year.
- Take the time to warm up – As much as you just want to get the job done, taking five minutes to stretch and warm up your muscles can go a long way toward preventing injury and pain afterwards. You don’t have to do a lot for it to go a long way.
- Don’t just grab any rake – As with any job, you need to make sure you have the right tools. Rakes come in different shapes and sizes, and you need to choose one that is appropriate for your height or else you’re going to find yourself reaching over or up more than you need to, and that just adds to your effort. The other thing to remember is that even though buying an extra wide rake seems like a time saver, it means you’ll be dragging or lifting a lot more weight.
- Don’t bend over too far – Bending and pulling is a recipe for back pain and strain. The more awkward your position, the more likely it is that you’ll be hurt. Keep your shoulders back, your knees and your posture straight, and remember to take a break and stretch every once in a while.
- Switch it up – Specifically, switch hands. We’ve all heard of repetitive motion injuries. They come from doing too much of the same thing. Just because you have a dominant hand doesn’t mean you always need to lead with it. By switching sides, you lower your risk of stressing your muscles.
- Remember where your power is – All the strength that you need for lifting comes from your thighs, and the best way to leverage it is by bending your knees. If you bend at the waist, you’re going to work harder and increase the risk of injuring yourself.
- Keep your piles small – Leaves are only weightless when they are looked at individually. A big pile is heavy. Remember, you don’t need to prove anything to anybody by lifting heavy leaf piles, and doing so boosts your chance of pain.
- Work with the wind – Fall is notoriously breezy. There’s no reason to head into the wind when you can use its power to your advantage.
To learn more about how our lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey can help, contact our office today to set up an appointment.