Although a stunning time of year to spend outdoors, autumn brings a lot of cleaning with the change in color and the eventual fall of leaves.
Below, we provide some useful tips to help you maintain good posture and avoid injury during (and after) fall cleanup.
To put it simply, fall cleanup involves preparing your lawn for spring. Although it sounds simple, this involves clearing drainage areas, removing debris, pruning, and taking protective measures for plants.
Before we jump in, it’s important to understand why injuries could be inevitable during or after fall cleanup.
It’s no secret that our backs and other parts of the body are vulnerable. Whether we're raking leaves or pushing a wheelbarrow, we bend forward automatically without even thinking about it. When you perform this motion repeatedly, it can create pain in your lower back or even down your legs. Further, bending and twisting together can be even more dangerous.
First, start by wearing comfortable shoes, which can help you relax and feel more at ease while doing yard work. Yard work can put a lot of strain on your feet and legs, but good foot and arch support can prevent that strain from traveling up your back. When gardening, wear sturdy sneakers or boots instead of sandals or flip-flops.
During bagging and loading, bend at your hips and knees and keep your back straight. When you squat, keep your knees behind your toes.
You should keep the load close to you while lifting and transferring it. If you have a large backyard, you can do the activity in two or three sessions rather than in one go.
Warming up is also a good idea. You can walk for 15 minutes, for example. When you return, your body should be well prepared for the next task.
Before you begin cleaning, take a walk and stretch. As a result, your shoulders, neck, and back will not be strained. After you've finished, stretch gently to relieve muscle tension. Be sure to stay hydrated and avoid overexerting yourself.
When raking, safety is of the utmost importance. It’s crucial to select a rake that is appropriate for your height and strength in order to prevent injuries and maximize efficiency. If you are going to purchase a rake, make sure that you can perform raking movements effectively. If you’re struggling in the store, you’ll likely struggle in your backyard as well.
When choosing equipment, you should also make sure they can take some strain off your back. As an example, trimmers provide stability while edging and weeding. In the same way, retractable garden hoses are easier to carry when watering various areas in the garden.
It’s normal to have little muscle soreness after fall cleanup. If the pain isn’t too severe, the usual at-home treatments like applying heat or ice should be effective in relieving your discomfort.
However, if that doesn’t work, and your soreness lasts more than two days, then it’s best to plan a visit with your physical therapist. That’s because you could be dealing with an injury that needs proper treatment from a trained health professional who specializes in rehabilitation and injury prevention.
In most fall cleanup activities, we bend and twist at the spine, which is often unnecessary. Getting in touch with a physical therapist as soon as possible will help you:
You should also consider engaging in regular light exercise, whether you’re doing yardwork or not. A little physical activity such as walking and stretching can help keep you in great shape, giving you the best chance at staying healthy and speeding up recovery if you do sustain an injury.
At AmeriCare, we’re here to help you stay healthy and make sure you don’t injure yourself this season. That way, you and your family can enjoy all of the fun and excitement that this beautiful fall season has to offer.