Keep Autumn Activities From Being A Pain

Now that fall has arrived, I’d like to remind you that the best way to avoid injuring yourself or aggravating an old injury is to be smart about doing activities that change with the season – from sports to chores around your home. Common fall cleanup tasks can cause muscle strain, back pain, repetitive motion injuries, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, accidents and other injuries. Sports add dangers to knees and other joints. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that well over 40 million people seek emergency room treatment for these kinds of injuries every year.

Here’s some general advice to help keep away (or at least minimize) aches and pains:

Always Warm Up and Cool Down

Walk and stretch before you exert yourself to help prevent your shoulders, neck and back and other muscles from being strained. Warm up with a few gentle stretching exercises before you even pick up the rake, shovel, golf club or football. When you’re done, gentle stretches will help relieve muscle tension.

Dress Appropriately

Lightweight, natural fibers provide warmth without trapping sweat. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect your skin from scratches, bugs and sun. Wear sturdy shoes or boots with slip-resistant soles to prevent injuries and minimize the risk of falling.

Use the Right Tools

Just as you use the right size golf clubs or tennis racquet, if you’re raking or shoveling, find a tool that’s the proper height and weight. This will prevent you from hunching over, which could hurt your lower back. Look for ergonomic handles. If the rake handle isn’t padded, wear gloves to prevent blisters.

Make It a Full Body Workout

Raking or shoveling? Don’t let your back do all the work. Be sure to bend your knees and lift that dirt, trash bags and wheelbarrows with your legs. Use your arms to help you rake or dig, and stand as straight as is comfortable with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart. Plus, avoid twisting your upper torso because it can aggravate the muscles in your back. Turn your whole body.

Use Proper Posture and Movements

When raking, switch sides every few minutes to help avoid using the same muscles to do the same movement repetitively. Never throw leaves over your shoulder or to the side, which puts undue stress on your back. When picking up leaves, bend at the knees – not the waist.

Pace Yourself

Ease into your autumn cleanup and take regular breaks every 15-20 minutes. Stop, walk around, stretch and have something refreshing or warming to drink.

Exercise Year Round

People who exercise all the time are less likely to injure themselves while doing chores or playing sports since their muscles are more accustomed to physical activity. And don’t forget that a healthy diet can boost your energy.

Chances are, the first time out, some of these autumn activities will leave you sore. Hot and cold therapy can help shorten your recovery:

  1. Try ice the first day or two to help with inflammation: 10 minutes on; 5 off; 10 on, 5 off.
  2. Two to three days after injury, try using heat. It draws more blood to the area and removes toxins.
  3. Alternating cold and heat can be very effective when used together at this point. It takes about 45 minutes: heat for 10 minutes, 5-minute break; then cold for 10 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break; then heat again for 10.


If you experience severe pain and swelling, or worsening or extended discomfort, call us at New Jersey Pain Care Specialists and our caring staff will tell you how we can help.