It’s hard to imagine that the fall season is upon us, but soon you’ll be raking leaves, cutting back your gardens, and putting away the patio furniture (if you haven’t already done so). Here are three tips to get you through these activities safely:

Warm up with some stretching; activities such as raking might challenge your muscles in ways that your daily grind doesn’t. If you stretch your muscles before (and after is also a good idea), you will help to prevent the delayed onset muscle soreness that often comes with new activities. Important muscle groups to stretch for an activity like raking would be hamstrings, trunk rotators, and shoulders (see attached images for some simple stretches for these areas).

Remember to keep good form; All too often I’ll drive by someone in their garden and see them completely bent over at the back, and no bend in their knees. Although some people’s back may tolerate being flexed for several hours, I know that mine wouldn’t! If you are going to be in your garden for a while, try using knee pads or a kneeling pad to give your back a rest (if you have good knees that is!). You can even try sitting on your rear-end if kneeling isn’t possible for you.

Moderation is the key; Many of the injuries that we see in the clinic are as a result of repetitive stress and/or performing a new activity for too long of a period. Most of us don’t rake leaves every week throughout the year, so when it comes to tackling this activity this fall, you’re better off doing it in small bouts. If you don’t feel that you have the time to take a full rest, perhaps just move on to another activity for a while and come back to the previous task later. This will make it more likely that you are challenging different areas of the body giving other areas a rest.

If you are able to follow these three simple steps, there’s a good chance that you won’t wake up feeling stiff and sore after preparing your yard for winter. If you do develop some soreness, be proactive and call us at South Simcoe Physiotherapy today. We treat our patients one-on-one and use proven techniques such as manual therapy, acupuncture, IMS/dry needling, and exercise prescription to get you better faster!

Photograph of stretching exercise from The Stretching Handbook, 3rd Edition.

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