Fall is here. With the changes in the seasons come some changes to your chores and daily activities. As you get outside, here are some tips to help keep your back healthy and avoid unnecessary pain.

  1. Warm up your muscles. When the leaves pile up, you’ll be heading outside to rake and bag leaves. That means you’ll be doing lots of bending and twisting motions. Take a few minutes to stretch before you get to work cleaning up the yard.
  2. Get equipped. There are a number of lightweight tools with long handles that can decrease the strain on your back. Think about reducing weight by using a plastic shovel, instead of a metal one.  Don’t forget to use a wheelbarrow or cart to help move heavy yard debris.
  3. Form matters. As with any heavy lifting around the house, always lift with your legs (not your back).  Bend at your knees and avoid bending your back and twisting.
  4. Pace yourself. Raking leaves or clearing the first snow from your driveway can be taxing on your back. Take your time. Do the raking and shoveling in shifts. Be sure to incorporate frequent breaks for rest and drink lots of water while you’re working.
  5. Watch for slick surfaces. Rain-soaked leaves or frost-covered sidewalks can be an accident waiting to happen. One hard fall and your back could be in excruciating pain. Be aware of the surfaces you’re walking on while you venture outdoors. Slip-proof shoes or boots are a good idea when you’re not sure of the conditions outside.
  6. Stay active. For many adults, fall marks the start of a long winter indoors, with plenty of comfort food and minimal physical activity. The combination of the two can lead to winter weight gain and put unnecessary strain on your body. Walk on a treadmill. Bundle up and stroll around your neighborhood. Spend time at the gym. Swim laps at an indoor pool. Find an indoor activity you enjoy doing and start doing it now, so that it’s just another part of your routine when winter sets in.

These general information tips may help you prevent back pain, but remember to talk with your doctor, physical therapist, or healthcare provider about adding physical activity to the management of your back pain or recovery from surgery.