Are you in pain today?  You are not alone, we have been getting calls for the past 2 weeks from people with common symptoms.  Everyone is complaining about a dull ache in their mid-back and lower neck, and no one knows why they are getting this pain.  With all the leaves dropping from high winds and cold weather this weekend, fall yard work has officially taken its toll on the general public.

Raking is one of the most common causes for back and neck pain during the fall.  Using a rake involves a complex movement pattern using multiple muscle groups on both sides of the spine.  Let’s break this down, if you are using your left hand on the bottom you should be raking leaves to the right of your body.  This movement will engage Rhomboids, Latissimus Dorsi, Teres Major and Teres Minor on the right side of the body, while the left side will engage the Trapezius, Biceps and Pectorals.  As you can see there are a ton of muscles involved with one simple movement, now imagine doing this movement 100-200 times in the matter of a couple hours.   This movement will cause delayed onset muscle soreness, a common condition that happens when muscle groups are exercised to the point of exhaustion.  When this happens our body not only feels achy from the muscular tension, but it puts stress on the joints in our spine.  When our spine is stressed the nervous system becomes compromised and the body as a whole will function at a dramatically lower level.  This increases the risk of disc herniation’s, muscle spasms, and a high chance of catching a flu/cold.

The doctors at Northern Edge Chiropractic in Plymouth, MN have some tips to help you get through this fall without causing serious damage to you spine or nervous system.

  1. Wear more than one layer – With cooler temperatures it is easy to pull a muscle when starting a new exercise/movement.  By layering up you can keep all your muscles warm in the beginning, and you can take a layer off as your body heats up.
  2. Warm up first – Something as simple as bending in all ranges of motion and stretching the shoulders/arms out could make the difference in how your body performs while raking.  It also can save you some pain and suffering in the days to come.
  3. Rake to both sides – Start by raking in one direction and then switch.  This should give the body a better balance point and should cut down on the risk of overuse/injury to muscle groups on one side of the body.
  4. Don’t fill bags too full – Many people forget that after you rake the leaves you have to put them in a bag, and then haul the bag to the front of the driveway.  Make sure you are bending with the knees and lifting with the legs when grabbing leaves, and when lifting bags.  Using more bags will cut down on the amount of weight you will have to pick up, and carry over a distance.
  5. Take is easy – Remember to go slow and take it easy.  More than likely this is the first time in over a year that you are performing these movements and using these muscles so extensively.  If you feel pain/soreness, stop working, put some ice on it, and come back at a later time.  The leaves are not going anywhere!

Remember you will not usually feel pain the day of raking, delayed onset muscle soreness takes anywhere between 24-48 hours before feeling much pain.  The spinal dysfunction caused by muscular imbalances may not cause pain initially but will start affecting how the body functions immediately.  If you don’t feel right or are in pain after doing fall yard work please reach out to us at (763)316-5252.  We will perform a full chiropractic examination and develop a personalized chiropractic treatment plan that includes regular adjustments and complete muscle re-education.  Complete Muscle Re-education is a specialized muscle therapy only practiced at Northern Edge Chiropractic located in Plymouth Minnesota.