Tips to avoid back pain while raking leaves this fall

Doctors at Cleveland Clinic are giving some good advice when it comes to raking those leaves without hurting your back.

Has raking leaves and fall yard work got you feeling like a weekend warrior?

If you’re not careful, that load on your lumbar can cause some strain.

Drew Schwartz, DC, a chiropractor with Cleveland Clinic said when it comes to preventing back pain, warming up is key.

“We’re not looking to do a triathlon or a cross-fit competition here, but raking is going to be more than what your body is probably used to throughout the week. So, you have to prepare for that, otherwise injury will occur,” he advised.

Low back pain, tightness, stiff joints, and possibly even sciatica can occur when we fail to warm up first. In fact, one of the best ways to avoid back aches is to stretch before you begin raking.

Dynamic stretching allows our tissues to become more pliable and elastic. It promotes increased blood flow and healthy joint movement. As you rake, try taking an athletic stance with your feet shoulder-width apart and staggered.

And taking breaks is crucial because when we get tired or fatigued, we get lazy which may lead to bending awkwardly or over-extending. Also, remember to drink plenty of fluids.

Hydration is two-fold, mentally it assists us with alertness, focus and acuity in addition to its physical benefits.

“Everything moves better when we are hydrated,” Schwartz explained. “Muscles glide along each other better, tendons move better, everything just moves better and performs better when we are hydrated.”

You may also want to consider raking your leaves onto a tarp and dragging them to the curb, which is much easier than raking them down a long driveway.

Also, to listen to your body -- if you’re experiencing shooting pain, numbness, tingling or intense spasms, it’s time to call your medical provider.