Avoiding Injuries While Doing Yard Work This Fall

Before you reach for your rake or your leaf blower this fall, consider possible consequences: upper or lower back strain, neck strain and pain in the shoulders. Just as playing football or golf can injure your body, the twisting, turning, bending and reaching of mowing, raking and using yard equipment can also cause injury if your body is unprepared. Like an athlete, if you leap into something without warming up or knowing how to do it properly, the chances of injury increase. To prevent strain and pain follow these tips:

• Wear supportive shoes. Good foot and arch support can prevent some back strain.

• Stand as straight as possible, and keep your head up as you rake or mow/mulch.

• When 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 the waist, as you pick up yard equipment or piles of leaves or grass.

Make the piles small to decrease the possibility of back strain.

• To avoid blisters, try wearing gloves. If you have asthma or

allergies, wear a mask.

• Regardless of what piece of equipment you use, make sure it has a strap and that you use it.

Place the strap over your head on the shoulder opposite the side of your body from

the device. This will help normalize your center of gravity.

• Be sure to switch the side on which you operate the equipment as often as possible, and to

balance the muscles being used, alternate your stance and motion frequently.

• If your mulching 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 before and after your work and take frequent breaks.

While it is critical to use and operate yard equipment safely, it is equally important to prepare your body for the work you are about to do. To help avoid injury, be sure to include a warm-up/cool-down period that involves stretching. Breathe in and out slowly throughout each stretching exercise until the muscle is stretched to its furthest point. At that point, hold your breath in; when you relax, breathe out. Stretch gently and smoothly. Do not bounce or jerk your body in any way and stretch as far as you can comfortably.

Fairport Chiropractic1157 Fairport Road
Fairport, NY 14450