Ah, fall. Autumn is officially here.  Leaf raking, garden clearing and flower bed mulching are looming in the near future.

Every year, here at Blomerth Chiropractic we treat people who are suffering painful backs, necks, shoulders, arms and hips caused by over-doing yard work. We love to see everyone. But, we would rather be busy helping you stay healthy with wellness care. So, set up your wellness care visit now, then read on about how to avoid the “yard work blues” with safe raking.

                                                           Pre yard-work warm-up:
1. breathe deeply 10 times
2. walk briskly 5 minutes
3. stretch leaning backwards, then bending forwards (slowly), then bending side to side. (5 repetitions) and stretch your shoulders by pulling your elbow across in front of you.

Be sure to drink extra water before you start and while working. Dehydrated muscles can cramp and have difficulty clearing the lactic acid that causes pain and stiffness.

                                                                   Safe raking:
Switch hands on the rake from time to time. This helps balance the work of your back and shoulder muscles so you don’t become over developed on one side. You will also have a better chance of avoiding upper or lower back pains. The same goes for carrying a leaf blower. Switch the side you carry it on from time to time.

If you are using leaf bags: repetitive bending can bring on lower back pain. Bend your knees to gather the leaves. Repetitive bending from the waist causes microtrauma to your lower back joints and can hurt the joints, muscles, discs and nerves. Bending your knees is also good exercise for your thigh muscles and will help get you in shape for ski season while protecting your back. Tip: lay the bag on its side and push the leaves into it with the rake (this is easier with a helper holding the bag open for you.)

If you are using a tarp, be sure not to blow too many leaves onto the tarp making it very heavy to drag. Dragging a too-heavy tarp can hurt your back.

When lifting those heavy leaf bags: keep the weight close to your body, bend from your knees, tighten your stomach muscles, and use your thigh muscles to lift.

Every hour or so, take a break, drink water, juice or a Smart Water type drink to re-hydrate.

                                  WHAT TO DO IF YOU SHOULD OVER-DO IT

Sore achy muscles like wet heat. This means soaking in a nice hot tub with Epsom salts, or using a microwave hot pack, hot water bottle, or even a towel run under hot water and rung out (wet heat should be used for 20 minutes each hour). Do not use a hot pack for more than 20 minutes at a time or you could cause inflammation in your muscles and prolong the discomfort. (Avoid dry heating pads – they cause stiffness by pulling moisture from the muscles)

Take a hot shower and stretch out the stiff achy muscles the next day

Muscle rubs like Biofreeze can help muscles feel better (we have handy tubes, roll ons or sprays of Biofreeze at the office)

If you continue to hurt for more than a day or two, you may have injured a joint. Call us for an appointment right away at 978-535-6155. The sooner we correct the problem, the faster you get better.