Fall yardwork … The price of a beautiful season

. Posted in Health, Physical Therapy

By Sean Shields, Manager of Physical Therapy

As we try and take a moment to savor the beauty of fall in New England, it’s easy to forget the amount of work that comes with it. The vibrant colors that paint our window views throughout October cover our lawns, roads, and gutters in November. Each mature oak tree is said to carry around 200,000 leaves. In a season, each tree can drop an average of 30-60 pounds of leaves, creating an injury trap for the unsuspecting. As you prepare to clean up this mess and ready your home for winter we had some tips that we hope will help keep you out of our Urgent Care this fall.

Warm up
Just like your car in the winter, the body can benefit from a warm-up prior to your heaviest tasks. A good target would be activity that feels like a 4/10 (four on a scale of 1 – 10 intensity) workout for about 10-15 minutes before yard work. Walking, stretching, or light exercises all help prep your heart, get blood flow into muscles, and lubricate joints.

Body position matters
Posture is about more than good manners; it plays a major role in preventing injury. As we reach down to grab a pile of leaves, we can help our backs by avoiding too much trunk bend. When we flex forward too far, our back muscles shut down, leaving our spine and ligaments with all the weight. Try bending at the hip and knees to share the load.

Keep your work close
Whether raking, carrying a ladder, or pushing a wheelbarrow, distance matters. By keeping objects close to your center, you can reduce the amount of strain on your body by 80 percent.

Drink water
As temps cool, it might not be so obvious when your body needs hydrating. Staying properly hydrated helps your heart, muscles, and other organs function through increased strain.

Watch for old injuries
If you have an old injury, make sure you are not going to do anything to exacerbate it. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist if you are managing an active injury.

Invest in your body now
By exercising regularly, you can build strength and flexibility for handling tasks throughout the year.