Ahh October, it is the month for giving thanks, Halloween costumes and the dreaded yard clean-up before winter.
It is always a good idea to warm-up and stretch your body before attempting to tackle the leaves and any other required yard clean-up to prevent any injuries. Too often we are over enthusiastic to get started with this overwhelming task that we forget to prime our body first.
Start by just walking on the spot or around the yard for about 10-15 minutes just to get the blood circulating to all the muscles that will soon be put to work! Don’t forget to lift your knees and do some gentle arm circles at the same time. It is a good idea to follow that up with some gentle stretches for the upper and lower body. Here are some good stretches to incorporate into your daily routine but especially before doing extensive yard clean-up.
For upper body:
1) Overhead reach: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and then extend your right arm over your while bending to the left from the waist. Hold for 15 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
2) For your back: While seated bend forward from the hips while keeping your head down. Try to reach for the ground but don’t force the stretch.
3) For your shoulders try the hugging stretch. Cross both arms and place both hands behind shoulders of opposite arms. Bring elbows closer together in front of body and raise elbows slightly and hold. Slowly rotate at the waist as far as is comfortable to the right and then left.
For the lower body:
1) Try the quadriceps stretch. While holding onto to a wall or tree for support, bend your right knee then grab onto your right ankle with your left hand. Hold for 15 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
2) Hamstring stretch: Stand straight and reach to the sky then slowly bend forward from the waist and reach for your toes. Again don’t overstretch, pay attention to how your body is feeling. You should feel a stretch in your lower back and the back of your legs. There should be no pain involved. Hold for 15 seconds or so. Do this movement 1 to 3 times.
During your yard work there are some tips to follow to remain injury free as well:
- Avoid bending from the waist while tending to your garden. It is best to kneel on a flat surface for prolonged periods of time. A good option is a flat, foam rubber pad to kneel on or wear knee pads.
- Remember to take frequent breaks and change your body position.
- Keep hydrated while working outside. It is just as important to do this in the cooler weather as it is in the sizzling sun. We may not be feeling hot or sweaty in the fall but our internal organs and muscles don’t know the difference.
- Wait for raking until the leaves are dry. Why make the chore of raking worse than it has to be! Take a look at the link below for more helpful information provided by the Ontario Chiropractic Association:
Things to look for when buying a Rake:
Raking is one to the most arduous tasks in the garden, especially in the fall. The name of the game is to make this job as efficient as possible and avoid injuries. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for a rake:
Lawn Debris: If you are dealing with more complex lawn debris than leaves it is best to look for a rake made with tines that have greater spacing such as a those labelled “Medium Duty” or “Heavy Duty”. This will avoid the rake getting clogged with acorns, pine needles etc. For lawns that consist of mostly leaves, than get a rake that is labelled as “Light Duty”
Terrain: If you have a lawn that is mostly flat, then a rake with plastic tines will be sufficient. For lawns that have many hills, dips, ditches, etc., it is best to look for a rake with metal tines. Tines that are made of metal are much more flexible, making the job raking of raking uneven
terrain much easier.
Grass Height: If your grass is low and just covering the hard ground it is best to use a rake with plastic tines as metal rakes can leave gouges or marks on the ground. Also, if your lawn is very healthy with tall, thick grass, rakes with metal tines will have a hard time making it
Handle Material: If you have a large lawn that means a longer time raking. Consider a rake with a more comfortable handle. Instead of purchasing a rake with a wooden handle try a rake with a fiberglass or metal handle. They are lighter and often come with grips for comfort to hold for longer periods.
Handle Height: In order to prevent injuries it is best to look for a rake that is not much taller than the height of the person raking and not much shorter than chin height. The raking motion should feel natural. If the rake is too short in length you will be bending over continually, but too long of a rake and you will be constantly stretching beyond your normal range of motion.
If you have any quesitons, or find yourself a little sore after your fall clean up, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Remember to follow our practitioners on social media-Dr. Frederick is on Facebook-@Dr.Frederick Chiropractic, Instagram-@dr_frederick_chiropractic. Our Massage Therapist, Lori Tangen is on Facebook- @Lorraine Tangen RMT or Instagram- @ltangenrmt