Avoid Fall Health Hazards: Tips for Carrying Books & Raking Safely
By Corinne ShumakerIt’s time for school and the beautiful colored leaves! However, certain fall activities can become a source of discomfort, aggravating or even leading to low back pain (LBP). Wearing backpacks improperly and raking leaves without good core support can cause an increase in back pain. Doctors report that LBP is the fifth most common complaint that they hear from patients.
Wearing a backpack safely is crucial to preventing LBP.
The weight, size and how it is fitted all play a part in staying safe. A properly sized backpack fits the wearer’s trunk size, shoulders to tail. Encourage children to only carry what is needed; the recommendation that the backpack should be no more than 15% of body weight. Finally, wear both
straps when carrying a backpack.
Raking Leaves Correctly
Prince William has beautiful foliage, but cleaning it up can
wreak havoc on the back if done improperly. Here are some suggestions to help limit or prevent pain this season. A layer of inner muscles called the “core” muscles surround the spine. These can act similarly to a corset bracing the spine and preventing extra exertion on the back. The best cue to use when activating one’s core is to
think about zipping up a pair of tight jeans. The belly button should go in towards the spine and one should still be able to breathe. When using a rake, avoid twisting or large movements from the waist. Rake up piles in smaller groups, and hold the rake higher on the handle to prevent leaning too far forward. Last but not least, remember that raking is a workout: Be sure to warm up, hydrate and take breaks.
Contact your MD or physical therapist if LBP persists or to learn more tips and exercises to strengthen and stabilize your core.
Corinne Shumaker received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Shenandoah University and works with Advantage Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation in Manassas and Gainesville. She can be reached at 703-753-1005