Protecting Your Back While You’re Raking Leaves

Preventing injuries and backache while raking leaves is both the easiest and the hardest thing to do. The trick is, if your body is well aligned and moving properly, you won’t hurt yourself.

In fact, the patients I see don’t have injuries from raking leaves or shoveling snow or any of those big, seasonal jobs that seem to leave so many Americans in pain each year. The reason they don’t is that if they’ve been seeing me for any amount of time, they have strengthened their core muscles (including, most importantly, the diaphragm), and have better posture and more ideal movement patterns. Once you have good breathing, strong core muscles, good posture, and good movement patterns, you won’t get injured from heavy labor–you’ll get stronger and you’ll actually hurt less.

That’s why our grandfathers (who may have been a laborers, factory workers or construction workers), didn’t miss a day of work due to a “backache.” That’s why our great-grandmothers had six kids and did laundry without a machine didn’t seem to have hip pain and incontinence during their thirties and forties. They didn’t have the pain we modern workers have because lifting bricks, hauling logs, and maintaining a household without modern conveniences is exercise in itself. And actually, it’s exercise that keeps the body in much better alignment and in much better shape than going to the gym and working out on cardio and weight machines. The human body is intended to lift heavy things, pick up children. When I am treating a patient either for pain or to improve performance, we do functional exercise that improve posture, alignment, and ideal body movement.

The folks who have been doing functional exercises in my office as part of their treatment plan always tell me that raking leaves, spreading mulch, shoveling snow makes them feel better than ever. Exercise properly done with a “functional body” provides training, not injury. Exercise with a less-than-functioning body…strain! Makes sense, no? Isn’t that why athletes train? So they can perform better?

At Capitol Rehab of Richmond, our approach for everyone from office workers to elite athletes, and from infants to seniors is that we want to help you get relief of your discomfort, regain mobility and improve your performance. We look at it as if you were in the “Life Olympics.” This doesn’t mean working out in a gym all year to get in shape so you won’t throw your back out once or twice a fall or winter when you’re raking leaves or shoveling snow. It means getting your body into proper alignment and well trained so that you can handle LOTS of things without getting hurt—playing with kids or grandkids, cleaning, doing part of a home renovation project, raking leaves, carrying heavy shopping bags, stretching up to get something off a high shelf, and yes, routine yard maintenance in the fall and winter.

Call us today to schedule a functional evaluation if you’re a new patient, or if you’ve seen us before, call us to schedule a fall tune-up!