There is no prettier sight than the colourful fall leaves in Lanark County. Soon enough though we will be raking and blowing those beautiful leaves off our lawns and preparing for the snowy winter ahead.

Fall is a busy time of year at the chiropractic clinic. Low back and shoulder injuries from the fall yard clean up are very common and can slow you down immensely.

The famous line clients say to me this time of year is, ‘Doc, I think I over did it.’ Here are some tips to help keep you injury free this fall.

Warm-up: Always warm up before heading out to rake or garden. As the weather cools our muscles are more vulnerable to small tears and strain injuries when they are not properly prepared for a task. Take a brisk 10-minute walk before heading for the garden shed. This will get the warm blood pumping to those muscles.

Mix it up: Alternate between lifting, raking and digging type tasks every 10-15 minutes. This allows tiring muscles to catch a break, which means you’re are less likely to experience an overuse injury.

Use the Scissor Stance: Raking can be a great core workout. When raking place one leg forward and one leg back. Switch sides every few minutes. Also try bracing your core (abdominals and back muscles) to help you stand straighter and limit twisting. These tips will help protect your spinal joints while you rake.

Take Breaks: Take a break every 20 minutes to move around, stretch, have a drink of water and relax. This will ensure you don’t ‘over do it’.

If you experience general all-over muscle ache or stiffness after a day of raking then you most likely did over do it but in an good way. Gently stretch and the pain should subside within a day or two. If however, you experience sharp, burning or catching pain in your back or shoulders during or after your yard work, or the pain does not go away, this may indicate a more significant joint or muscle injury. If in doubt, have it checked out!

Safe raking everyone!

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