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Get in Shape to Tackle Your Yard This Fall

Now that fall has officially begun, your weekend activities may include raking and bagging all those pesky leaves.

Before you rev up the lawnmower or reach for your rake this fall, consider the possible consequences: upper- or lower-back strain, pain in the shoulders, and neck strain.

Just as playing football or golf can injure your body, the twisting, turning, bending, and reaching that go into mowing and racking may injure you if your body is not prepared.

What can you do?

The American Chiropractic Association and your local doctor of chiropractic offer the following tips to help prevent the needless pain yardwork can cause.

  • Stretching exercises, a total of 10 to 15 minutes spread over the course of your work. Before you tackle the lawn or the leaves, stretch, but don’t bounce while stretching. Take a short walk to stimulate circulation. Do knee-to-chest pulls, trunk rotations, and side bends with hands above your head and fingers locked.
  • Work for half an hour, then rest for a few minutes and stretch again. When you’re finished with the yard work, repeat the stretching exercises.
  • Stand as straight as possible, and keep your head up as you rake or mow.
  • Avoid the heat of the day. If you’re a morning person, get the work done before 10 a.m. Otherwise, do your chores after 6 p.m.
  • When you’re raking, use a “scissors” stance: right foot forward and left foot back for a few minutes, then reverse, putting your left foot forward and right foot back.
  • Bend at the knees, not at the waist, as you pick up piles of leaves or grass from the grass catcher. Make the piles small to decrease the possibility of back strain.
  • For mowing, use your weight to push the mower.
  • If your mower has a pull cord, don’t twist at the waist or yank the cord. Instead, bend at the knees and pull in one smooth motion.
  • Drink lots of water, wear a hat, shoes and protective glasses. And, to avoid blisters, try wearing gloves. If your equipment is loud, wear hearing protection, and if you have asthma or allergies, wear a mask. Try ergonomic tools. They may look funny but they’re engineered to protect you when used properly.
  • If you do feel soreness and stiffness in your back, use ice to soothe the discomfort. And if there’s no improvement in two or three days, see your doctor/chiropractor.

Copyright 1999 Health Resources Publishing

© 2000 Health Resources Publishing