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Fall is approaching and as days get colder, the leaves will turn and fall from the trees, coating your lawn in a sea of gold, yellow, and brown. Before you know it, it will be time to unload the rake, leaf blower, and trimmers from the shed to prepare for fall clean up. Fall yard work can lead to a lot of bending, crouching, and lifting. It’s important to be aware of the risks and strains fall activities can have on your back.

As simple of a task as raking may seem, the repetitive range of motion involved can take a toll on your back. Warm up your muscles prior to any yard work. Stretches involving mobility such as side bends, hip twists, or shoulder circles can be beneficial for your back, arms, and waist. Once you have prepared your body for the fall clean up you can grab your tools and get started! Make sure you are using tools that are comfortable for you. For instance, using a rake that is too short can strain your spine. Obtain a rake that is long enough so you can work comfortably without having to hunch over.

Raking with your dominant hand leads to over use of one side of your back. Remember to switch it up every few minutes or so. It will give your back an equal work out and avoid overworking one group of muscles over the other.

Lifting bags that are too heavy can also put tension on your back, possibly leading to injury. Lift what you can. Proper handling of leaf bags can save you from pain. Bending at the knees as opposed to the waist and lifting from the legs will take the pressure off of your back. It may be a good idea to visit your chiropractor to get fitted for a back brace. Back braces help keep the spine straight and reduce the twisting motion that occurs while working outside.

While doing any type of yard work on the ground such as weeding, digging, or planting place a mat on the ground and kneel. Getting down on all fours will cause your back muscle and spine discomfort.

Finally, pace yourself. A lot and time and effort goes into proper yard maintenance. Don’t plan on getting everything done all at once. Take your time and rest when you feel the need to. If you experience pain, soreness, or stiffness see your chiropractor to get some relief.