Fans of autumn beware! With that lovely crispness in the air can come an increase in the potential for back pain. But never fear — with a little advance planning and awareness, you can enjoy the fall season while protecting your back. Here are five fall activities that can cause back pain, why it can happen, and what you can do to prevent it.
- Harvesting activities
From apple picking to the pumpkin patch, getting to harvest your own autumn produce can be a great way to spend a fall afternoon. But those activities also come with a lot of bending, twisting, and lifting, all of which can cause back pain if you’re not careful. To stay pain-free:
- Start with a firm foundation, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep the load you’re carrying close to your body to minimize stress on your muscles and joints.
- Always use proper lifting technique, bending your knees and keeping your back straight, so your leg muscles do most of the work.
- Instead of lifting and twisting at the same time, take small steps. It takes significant stress off the back.
- Cozy indoor days
When the weather turns chilly and gray, it can be tempting to curl up on the couch for the weekend. But too much time spent in one position can lead to muscle stiffness. This is especially true if you’re slouching or don’t have good support for your back and neck. To make the most of a cozy day:
- Get up, stretch, and move around every one to two hours throughout the day to avoid muscle stiffness.
- Change positions periodically, so the same ligaments aren’t continually stretched.
- Make sure the curve of your spine is supported while sitting or lying down to prevent soreness.
With all of the beautiful walking and hiking trails in Minnesota, getting out for a couple of hours is a great way to get some exercise. And in the fall, you can enjoy lower humidity and look at the beautiful foliage. Hiking can lead to a back injury, especially if you’re not warmed up or are overdoing it. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Start with a little light walking to warm up the major muscle groups you’ll be using during the hike.
- Do a few dynamic warm-up activities or exercises to loosen up your back muscles, particularly if you’ll be carrying a pack.
- Raking leaves
If there is one fall activity that brings back pain to mind, it’s raking leaves and doing other fall yard work. The repeated leaning and pulling motion, together with plenty of bending, lifting, and twisting, can wreak havoc. Here are some tips to get ready:
- If you’ve been taking it easy this summer, it’s time to increase your activity level gradually, so your muscles and joints will be ready to take on the challenge.
- Start with a dynamic warm-up to get your upper and lower body muscles and joints ready to work.
- Take breaks — it feels like the leaves are never-ending, and it’s easy to overdo it. Take breaks to avoid injury.