Summer is over, and the colors of the leaves are already changing. Yes, this is a beautiful time to enjoy the landscape but it also means that soon those beautiful things will be on the ground and someone will have to pick them up. My back hurts just thinking about all the leaves that will soon cover my yard. So, what can we do to prevent back injuries this fall?
First off, be prepared. If you know what you’re going to do, have the right tools and know how to use them. The rake is a common instrument that leads to many back injuries. Why? Many people rake their yards with constant twisting motions, producing violent torsion of the lumbar (low back) spine. Raking in this manner puts your back in a vulnerable state and makes it prone to injury. If you’re going to rake the leaves, maintain a good posture, and use your arms to extend and pull back, bringing the rake towards you. Technique is key in preventing injury.
So let’s just say you’ve already raked the yard into a massive leaf pile—what are you going to do now? Well, of course you’ve decided to pick them up! This is another common mechanism of injury, as bending at the waist exhibits improper form, consequently placing increased stress on the low back. This can lead to sprain/strain injuries, low back pain, and possibly even a disc herniation. Correct your form by bending at the knees while maintaining good posture in your back, and using a squat technique to pick the leaves up.
If you haven’t done any work yet, here’s an alternative: Mulch the leaves in your yard! This will chop all the leaves up and spread them around. Dead plants and leaves are actually filled with organic carbon–containing compounds that supply fuel for plants to grow. Mulching not only cleans your yard, but also makes the lawn healthier in the long–run. This can be done with most lawn mowers.
If you can’t get outside to do any of these options, call the grandson, nephew, or a family member to come over and take care of the leaves. It may cost you a few bucks, but it will prevent you from having an injury. If you are currently experiencing back pain, or have pain flair ups after raking the leaves this Fall, come see us at Prairie Spine & Pain Institute.
About The Author: Derek N. Morrow, PA-C is a physician assistant with Prairie Spine and Pain Institute. Derek works in the clinic setting as a health care provider seeing patients. He is also utilized in the operating room as a first assist in surgery. In the clinic setting, his key function is to diagnose new patients and conduct their initial treatment. He works directly with patients to establish customized treatment programs and to monitor their progress. He also conducts history and physical evaluations for many patients. He performs many office procedures including trigger point injections, large joint injections, and bursa injections, all with the help of ultrasound guidance. He is radiologically trained, and uses his knowledge of X-ray, Ultrasound, MRI, CT, and EMG-Nerve Conduction Studies to establish a diagnosis and determine the appropriate treatment. Derek is surgically trained and plays a vital role in the procedures we perform at Prairie Spine and Pain Institute.