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Beware of the Pitfalls of Fall and Winter

When the leaves falling are telling you to grab a rake and get the yard clean, consider how easy it is to make the wrong moves and hurt yourself.  Raking requires upper body strength and endurance.  Warm up to yard work by exercising your primary muscles that include biceps, deltoids, rotator cuff, forearm and parascapular muscles.  Do it before and after raking.

Simple exercises like arm circles, pendulums, forearm and upper trap stretching will help loosen these muscle groups.  Proper posture while raking is a must.  Stay upright, head up, shoulders back and don’t hunch forward.  Good postural habits will prevent rotator cuff impingement, strain on neck and upper back and puts the upper body in position for the greatest mechanical advantage to create force and leverage.  You’ll also use less energy.  Once you’ve got those leaves raked into piles, now comes the real trial.  The body’s trunk and core are being tested, requiring the lumbar spine and hips to generate force to move leaf piles.  The strain is on your obliques, glutes, and hip rotators along with the lumbar extensor muscles.  What that means is there’s a lot of muscle groups interacting to get those leaves moved.  Never bend from the waist to pick up these mounting piles of leaves.  It is vital to squat and bend your knees while you pick up leaves.  Keep a flat back while you lift.  This takes the stress off the lower lumbar spine eliminating the possibility of strains and sprains or worse injuries such as herniated discs and sciatica.  Helpful, also, are warm up and cool down exercises such as hamstring, knee to chest, and trunk rotation stretches.

Kyle Branday, MSPT/C-PS, is a licensed physical therapist and partner at Amity Physical Therapy, founded 18 years ago by Michael Dow MSPT CEO/Director with offices in Woodbridge, Hamden and Branford, Milford and Wallingford.  Kyle is a graduate of Quinnipiac University with his Masters in Physical Therapy.  He works with patients of all ages and ability levels, treating high level athletes with fractures and sprains to gait and balance dysfunction in the elderly.  Kyle can be reached to set up an evaluation at (203) 389-4593 or visit www.amitypt.com.

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