Fall, with its vibrant colors and cool weather, is a season of activities. From raking leaves and apple picking to hiking and indoor housework, there’s no shortage of things to do. However, some of these activities can worsen back pain if not done carefully. This article will identify these activities and provide tips on how to prevent exacerbating your back pain.
Understanding Back Pain
Back pain is a prevalent health issue, affecting eight out of ten people at some point in their lives1. It can occur due to various reasons, including muscle or ligament strain, bulging or ruptured disks, arthritis, skeletal irregularities, and osteoporosis2.
Although enjoyable, fall activities can strain your back and worsen pain. Here are some of the common fall activities that could trigger back pain:
Autumn is synonymous with falling leaves. And while the sight of the ground covered in a blanket of red, orange, and yellow leaves is picturesque, the task of raking them is strenuous.
Raking involves repetitive movements, bending, and lifting, all of which can put stress on your back. If you’re not careful, this can lead to muscle strain, sprains, and even disc injury3.
- Warm-up: Just like any physical activity, it’s essential to warm up before you start raking. A quick walk or light stretching can help prepare your muscles.
- Proper lifting techniques: While picking up leaves, ensure that you maintain a neutral spine and carry smaller loads.
- Frequent breaks: Don’t push yourself to complete the task in one go. Taking breaks and doing gentle stretches can help prevent back strain.
Apple Picking and Hauling Pumpkins
Apple picking and hauling pumpkins are traditional fall activities. These are fun ways to spend time with your family, but they can also be strenuous on your back.
Lifting heavy objects, such as a crate of apples or a large pumpkin, can strain your back. Incorrect lifting techniques can lead to back injuries4.
- Correct lifting techniques: Bend at your knees, not your waist, when lifting heavy objects. Keep your back straight and use your legs and knees to lift.
- Ask for help: If something is too heavy for you to lift alone, ask someone to help you.
- Warm-up: Do a few easy stretches before starting the activities to loosen up your muscles and joints.
Hiking is a great way to enjoy the fall colors. However, carrying a heavy backpack for an extended period can strain your back.
Carrying a heavy backpack, especially if it’s not worn correctly, can lead to back pain. The added weight can strain your muscles and spine5.
- Light packing: Pack only the essentials and distribute the weight evenly in your backpack.
- Proper backpack wearing: Adjust the straps so that the backpack fits snugly on your back. The weight should be evenly distributed.
- Warm-up and stretch: Just like any other physical activity, warm-up and stretch before starting your hike.
Preparing your home for the colder months can involve a lot of indoor housework, such as cleaning gutters, washing windows, and moving furniture.
These tasks often involve bending, lifting, and twisting, which can strain your back6.
- Correct lifting techniques: Always lift with your knees, not your back. When moving heavy objects, push them instead of pulling.
- Use tools: Use long-handled tools to avoid excessive bending or reaching.
- Take breaks: Don’t try to do all your housework at once. Split it into manageable tasks and take regular breaks.
While fall activities can worsen back pain, that doesn’t mean you should avoid them. By understanding the risks and following the prevention tips, you can enjoy fall without hurting your back. Remember, it’s essential to listen to your body and stop any activity if you feel pain.
If your back pain persists, contact the MS Pain & Migraine team. They can guide you on the appropriate treatment options and provide personalized advice on preventing back pain.