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As you head out to rake your leaves this month, chances are the last thing you’ll be thinking about is your posture. But you should, because an hour or so spent tidying your lawn can have long-term consequences if your body isn’t accustomed to the activity.
Ajax Chiropractors Dr. John Noble and Dr. Mark Fera and the massage therapists at Pickering Village Chiropractic and Massage have helped numerous patients overcome injuries, many of which have occurred while working around the home.
“Although raking may seem like an easy task, it’s actually an intensely physical activity,” says Dr. Noble. “To avoid injury, it’s important to make sure you’re performing this task correctly.”
Follow these tips and avoid a backache next time you rake.
Pick the right tool for the job
Is your rake the correct length for your height? Ideally, your rake should be about chin high. If it is too tall or too short, this could lead to improper reaching or bending and potential injury.
Get your body moving before the raking begins
Before you grab the rake, spend five to 10 minutes doing a variety of whole-body stretches. These can include a basic hamstring stretch, shoulder, wrist, and side stretches. For a full list of stretches, click here. Do each of the exercises five times, holding each for 15 seconds. Be sure not to bounce, jerk or strain. It should be a gentle stretch, not a pain.
Ensure proper raking posture
Once you’ve warmed up, keep your back straight while raking and avoid repetitive motions by switching arms and pulling in different directions. This allows you to work out different parts of your body equally.
Remember to bend at the knees when lifting
Whether you’re moving a planter across the deck or lifting a bag of leaves, remember to bend at your knees, not at your waist, and keep your feet shoulder-width apart. As you’re lifting, tighten your abs, straighten your knees and keep your back straight. For turning, you should avoid twisting at the waist by moving your feet instead.
Take frequent breaks
Every 20 minutes or so, pause for a few minutes to catch your breath and stay hydrated. Check your posture and perform a few stretches to ensure that you are maintaining flexibility throughout raking.
The hot summer weather that has many of us spending so much time outdoors — walking, running, hiking, golfing, playing tennis — often means an inevitable increase in strains and sprains.
Assuming your injury isn’t serious enough to warrant a trip to the ER, you may be wondering how to treat your new sprain or strain.
Should you apply ice? Or is it heat? What else can you do?
The best treatment for a sprain or strain is with the “PRICE” method, a helpful acronym that is useful to remember when you have an acute injury.
Please note that if you are unsure of the severity of your sprain or strain, you should talk to your doctor before beginning any treatment or rehabilitation.
These five simple rules will help speed up your recovery in the first 48-72 hours of a sprain (ligament) or strain (muscle) injury.
P is for PROTECTION.
Protect the injured area from sustaining any more damage.
R is for REST.
Allow the injury time to heal.
I is for ICE.
Ice should be applied to an injured area as soon as possible.
Use the 10/10/10 method of ice application: 10 minutes of ice; followed by 10 minutes of rest without ice; followed by 10 minutes of ice again. Do not apply heat. Ice works to reduce pain and inflammation to your injured muscles, joints and tissues and may even slow bleeding if a tear has occurred.
C is for COMPRESSION.
Use a tensor bandage to wrap the injured area. When wrapping, begin at the end furthest away from the heart.
E is for ELEVATION.
If possible, raise the injured area above the level of the heart, especially at night, by putting a pillow under the injured area.
After the first 48 hours, slowly start to use the injured area again and continue icing for another day. If you are unsure of the severity of your injury, consult a docotr or chiropractor for an evaluation.
The wellness team at Pickering Village Chiropractic & Massage provides our patients with more than just chiropractic and massage therapy services, but also the know-how to build better personal wellness habits so you can be at your best for work or play, every day.
To book an appointment or learn more about the chiropractic and therapeutic massage therapy services available at our clinic, call 905-427-3202.