Written by Dr. Andrew Beardslee
At Premier Physical Therapy we often see an increase in low back pain in the fall season which is occasionally related directly to the raking of leaves. As we enjoy the beauty of the falls colors, it’s important to consider proper technique for raking of leaves as you clean up your yard this autumn.
The vertebrae are the bones which make up your spine, and they are stacked on top of each other with soft rings of cartilage between them known as vertebral discs. In the spaces between the vertebrae in the lumbar spine there are nerves which exit the sides of the spinal cord to form nerves of the legs. Movements of forceful rotation (especially when coupled with extension of the back) can put excessive stress on the discs and create bulging of the discs against the nerves. This pain, often referred to as sciatica, can cause dramatic sharp shooting pain and/or tingling down the legs.
Raking particularly puts a person at risk for these issues due to the repetitive movement and tendency to create non-symmetric lumbar rotation. To reduce risk of the back injuries listed above, aiming for symmetric movement and limiting rotation is recommended.