What Are the Benefits of Foam Rolling?

Article featured on Healthline

Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) technique. It can help relieve muscle tightness, soreness, and inflammation, and increase your joint range of motion.

Foam rolling can be an effective tool to add to your warm-up or cooldown, before and after exercise. And the benefits of foam rolling may vary from person to person.

Read on to learn the about foam rolling’s benefits and potential risks, plus how to add it to your routine.

1. Ease muscle pain

Foam rolling can be beneficial for easing sore muscles and reducing inflammation.

One small studyTrusted Source of eight male participants found evidence that foam rolling after exercise may help reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness. In the study, physically active men foam rolled for 20 minutes immediately after exercise in addition to 24 and 48 hours after exercising.

These participants saw a decrease in their delayed-onset muscle soreness when compared to exercising without foam rolling. They also performed physical exercises better than those who didn’t foam roll.

More research is needed in a larger, more diverse group of people to confirm how foam rolling affects muscle pain.

2. Increase range of motion

Foam rolling may help increase your range of motion, but more research is needed. Range of motion is important for flexibility and performance.

Researchers found evidence from one small studyTrusted Source of 11 adolescent athletes that a combination of foam rolling and static stretching was most effective for increasing range of motion. This was compared to static stretching or foam rolling alone.

More research is needed among a larger, more diverse group of people to fully understand the connection to foam rolling and range of motion.

For best results from foam rolling, try to stretch out and foam roll after each workout.

3. Temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite

Providers of some foam rolling products claim the products can help loosen and break up your fascia. Fascia are the body’s connective tissues and contribute to the appearance of cellulite.

While foam rolling may help smooth out your skin temporarily, there is currently no scientific evidence that it can permanently reduce cellulite.

The best way to reduce cellulite is to maintain an active lifestyle and consume a healthy diet.

4. Relieve back pain

SMR may be effectiveTrusted Source for easing pain in the body. It may help ease tension in the back, too.

It’s important to take care when using a foam roller on the back, however. It’s easy to strain or injure your back further.

To use your foam roller for lower back pain, turn your foam roller so it’s vertical (in-line with your spine) and slowly roll the roller from side to side, still in line with your spine. Do this as opposed to keeping it horizontal, which can cause you to arch and strain your back.

You can also try lying on a foam massage ball or a tennis ball to work out knots in the back.

5. Manage fibromyalgia symptoms

SMR has shown promising results for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms.

In one studyTrusted Source of 66 adults living with fibromyalgia, participants who foam rolled for 20 weeks reported that they felt better and had less pain intensity, fatigue, stiffness, and depression than those who didn’t try SMR techniques. They also reported an increase in their range of motion.

While this study is promising, more research is needed to confirm the efficacy of foam rolling for treating fibromyalgia symptoms.

6. Help you to relax

Many people find foam rolling to be relaxing. Breaking up tightness in your muscles may help you feel less tense and calmer as a result. But little evidence exists to show that foam rolling helps with relaxation.

In one small studyTrusted Source, 20 female participants either foam rolled or rested for 30 minutes after walking on the treadmill. Researchers didn’t find that foam rolling significantly reduced stress levels more than resting.

More research is needed. In the meantime, if you find foam rolling to be relaxing, there’s no harm in adding it to your weekly routine.

Is foam rolling safe?

Foam rolling is generally considered safe to do if you experience muscle tightness or regularly exercise. But avoid foam rolling if you have a serious injury such as a muscle tear or break, unless your doctor or a physical therapist has cleared you first.

Also avoid rolling over small joints like your knees, elbows, and ankles, which could cause you to hyperextend or damage them. Instead, when foam rolling your legs, roll out your calves first and then your quads separately, avoiding the knee area.

Foam rolling may help relieve tension during pregnancy. Just get cleared by your doctor first and avoid lying on your back to foam roll later in your pregnancy. You also should skip rolling out the calves in your third trimester. This may cause premature labor. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned.

How to choose a foam roller

A foam roller is usually cylinder-shaped and made of dense foam. But you can find foam rollers in a range of sizes and shapes, and in various levels of firmness.

It may take some trial and error to find the foam roller that’s right for you. Try out different foam rollers before purchasing to find one that is comfortable for you to use.

Here are some of the different types of foam rollers available online:

  • Smooth rollers are known for having a smooth, dense foam surface. They are best for people new to foam rolling. They offer even texture and aren’t as intense as a textured roller. This option is less expensive, too.
  • Textured rollers have ridges and knobs on them. They are used to work deeper into muscles, and work out knots and tension.
  • Foam-covered massage sticks can be used to deeply massage your legs or upper back.
  • Foam massage balls can be used for targeted muscle areas. For example, to work out knots in shoulders.

When choosing a foam roller, you’ll also want to take the shape and size into consideration. A shorter roller is more effective for smaller areas like the arms and calves, for example. Shorter rollers are also are more portable if you plan to travel with your roller.

How to start foam rolling

If you’ve never foam rolled before, you may want to learn a few basics before you get started. You can find endless “foam rolling for beginners” videos online that will explain how to safely roll out different parts of the body.

Or if you exercise at a gym with foam rollers, you can also ask a trainer to walk you through how to use one. You can also try foam rolling classes to learn how to use it effectively.

In general, follow these tips to get started:

  • Start with light pressure and build up as you get used to foam rolling. You may find it painful to foam roll at first if your muscles are tight. To adjust pressure, reduce the amount of body weight you’re putting onto the roller. For example, if you’re rolling out your calf, use your arms to help support your body and take some of your body weight off of the roller.
  • Slowly roll tender areas for 10 seconds to start, then work up to 30 to 60 seconds at a time.
  • Drink plenty of water after foam rolling to help with recovery.

If you want more tips, here are 8 foam rolling moves you can try.

Takeaway

Foam rolling can be an effective way to reduce muscle tension before starting your workout. That’s especially the case if you have any leftover tension from exercising over the previous few days.

Foam rolling can also be an important tool to use while cooling down after exercise.

If you add a foam roller to your warm-up and cooldown routine, you may find yourself feeling less sore in the days following.

If you regularly sit or stand for your job, or just have aches and pains, foam rolling can also be useful.

Always talk to your doctor before adding any new tools to your daily routine.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

8 Ways to Move More During the Workday


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Tips to Maintain Athletic Performance

Article featured on Coastal Orthopedics

In order to ensure you are performing at your peak performance it’s important to take care of your body. The following tips will help you get the most out of your fitness and keep you healthy for the days to come.

Get Sleep

Making sure you get plenty of sleep at night is essential in ensuring a healthy recovery from any physical activity or workout. Your muscles’ only time to recover is while you sleep. Seven to eight hours of sleep each night is the recommended amount of time to ensure your body is properly recovered, and you get the best workout the next day. If you are finding it difficult to get enough sleep at night, take a 20- to 30-minute nap after your workout, this can aid in recovery.

Try Cardio Outside

It is easy to get into a routine almost as easy as it is to get out of one. If you find yourself in the gym for every workout, we recommend exercising outside every so often. The possibilities are exciting; You can bike, sprint, or even rollerblade. Try the beach – attack the dunes! You will be amazed at the progress you make! Not only will you notice improvement, but the diversity will help in injury prevention.

Eat Right

We are sure you know about this one – but we had to touch on it. A proper diet will give you power on the field, in the gym, or on the track. Make sure your diet has the proper balance of protein, carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, vitamins, and minerals. Hydration is just as crucial as your diet because your body loses a lot of water during workouts. You need to drink more than eight 8-ounce glasses of water required for adults. Athletes should drink more water than average since they lose even more water from intense exercise. For intense workouts, it’s recommended that you should drink 16-20 ounces per pound of body weight lost during the workout.

Treat Your Injuries

When your body starts giving you warning signs, it’s important to listen. We know that this can be very frustrating, especially if you keep getting injuries. However, you need to back off until you get examined, and the injury is healed. Listening to your body is the best way to break the injury cycle.

Respect the Rest Day

After getting in the habit of exercising or working out almost every day, it can be hard to break it up and take a day off; in fact, it may seem counter-intuitive. Taking a day off is important as it allows for your body to repair itself and build back stronger. If you continually refuse to rest, you are only losing performance but putting yourself at a higher risk for injury

Pre and Post Stretching

It is recommended that athletes incorporate a stretch routine into workouts — even when you’re not preparing for a big event. Stretching your muscles regularly (before and after a workout) has many benefits that can help protect your musculoskeletal system and keep you performing at your best.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Exercises with impact benefit bone health

Original Article By Medicalxpress.com

Osteoporosis is associated with high morbidity, mortality and economic costs among older people. For prevention to be successful more needs to be known about the right forms of exercise to take.

Our bones are dynamic. Throughout our lives, their tissues are constantly undergoing changes, referred to as remodeling. Osteoporosis is a common disease estimated to affect around 22 million women and 5.5 million men between 50 and 84 years of age, across Europe. Its characteristics are reduced bone mass and deterioration of bone structure which increases the risk of sufferers developing fractures. It has been calculated that by 2050, incidences of hip fractures globally are likely to increase by 310 percent in men and 240 percent in women.

Currently, healthcare interventions are geared towards prevention, with exercise playing a key role for the maintenance and strengthening of bone density. By investigating the effects of swimming, cycling and football on adolescents, the EU-funded PRO-BONE project has demonstrated that some exercise regimes are more beneficial then others. The team discovered that low-impacts sports should be augmented with short bouts of weight bearing exercises to benefit the bone health of adolescents.

Pursuit of prevention rather than treatment

Osteoporosis has a strong genetic component with epidemiological studies showing that heritable factors account for 60-80 percent of the variability in bone mineral density. Both non-modifiable (e.g. hormones) and modifiable (e.g. calcium and vitamin D) environmental factors account for the remaining bone mass variation. One of the key modifiable factors being exercise.

PRO-BONE researchers reasoned that as football, cycling and swimming are among the most popular sports practiced by adolescents around the world, their influence on bone development would be scientifically instructive to study. As Dr. Luis Gracia-Marco explains, “Not all sports have a positive influence on bone mass because bone development is dependent on the skeleton’s mechanical load and the forces applied to it. These forces trigger bone modelling and remodeling.”

For the study, PRO-BONE originally recruited 121, 12-14 year-old males—37 footballers, 29 cyclists and 41 swimmers, with a control group of 14. Researchers followed these participants over a year as they undertook their specific sports training. For the nine-month intervention study footballers, cyclists and swimmers were randomly assigned to one of two subgroups: a control group and an intervention group. The intervention took the form of progressive plyometric jump training, where practitioners exert maximum jumping force for around 10 minutes a day, three to four times a week. The participants were then examined for their bone mass, geometry, texture and a range of biochemical markers.

Comparison of the athletes indicated that the young football players had better quality of osseous (bone) than the swimmers and cyclists. They also found that for the swimmers and cyclists the jump training could significantly improve bone quantity and geometry at the femoral neck and also the lumbar spine texture (regions of clinical relevance used in the diagnosis of osteoporosis), as well as maintaining bone turnover – the process by which new bone tissue is formed.

Working out a combined strategy

Low impact sports such as cycling and swimming are known to have a number of health benefits, such as for the cardiovascular system. PRO-BONE’s findings that they do not however improve bone mass means that sport clubs and athletes can combine their practice with weight-bearing and high impact sports involving jumps, such as football, tennis, badminton or basketball.

As Dr. Gracia-Marco summarizes, “These findings show the importance of implementing weight-bearing exercises to improve bone health as part of training routines in sports characterized by low or none impact at all.”

To further advance the work, the researchers intend to follow participants over a longer period of time to better gauge the effects of the jumping program. Additionally, they hope to measure the way the most practiced sports, such as swimming and cycling, affect peak bone mass attainment.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

orthopaedic doctors, new mexico

What are shin splints?

Article Featured on HealthLine

The term “shin splints” describes pain felt along the front of your lower leg/shin bone. Shin splint pain concentrates in the lower leg between the knee and ankle. Your doctor may refer to the condition as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS).

Shin splints frequently affect people who engage in moderate to heavy physical activity. You may be more likely to develop shin splints if you participate in strenuous physical activities or stop-start sports such as tennis, racquetball, soccer, or basketball. Sometimes the pain of shin splints can be so intense that you must stop the activity.

Shin splints is a cumulative stress disorder. Repeated pounding and stress on the bones, muscles, and joints of the lower legs prevents your body from being able to naturally repair and restore itself.

What causes shin splints?

The pain associated with shin splints results from excessive amounts of force on the shin bone and the tissues attaching the shin bone to the muscles surrounding it. The excessive force causes the muscles to swell and increases the pressure against the bone, leading to pain and inflammation.

Shin splints can also result from stress reactions to bone fractures. The constant pounding can cause minute cracks in the bones of the leg. The body can repair the cracks if given time to rest. However, if the body doesn’t get time to rest, the tiny cracks can result in a complete fracture or a stress fracture.

Who is at risk for shin splints?

Various activities and physical attributes can put you at risk of getting shin splints. Risk factors include:

  • an anatomical abnormality (such as flat foot syndrome)
  • muscle weakness in the thighs or buttocks
  • lack of flexibility
  • improper training techniques
  • running downhill
  • running on a slanted surface or uneven terrain
  • running on hard surfaces like concrete
  • using inappropriate or worn-out shoes for running or working out
  • participating in sports that have fast stops and starts (like soccer or downhill skiing)

Shin splints are also more likely to occur when your leg muscles and tendons are tired. Women, people with flat feet or rigid arches, athletes, military recruits, and dancers all have an increased likelihood of developing shin splints.

Symptoms of shin splints

People with shin splints will experience some of the following symptoms:

  • a dull ache in the front part of the lower leg
  • pain that develops during exercise
  • pain on either side of the shin bone
  • muscle pain
  • pain along the inner part of the lower leg
  • tenderness or soreness along the inner part of the lower leg
  • swelling in the lower leg (usually mild, if present)
  • numbness and weakness in the feet

See your doctor if your shin splints don’t respond to common treatment methods or if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • severe pain in your shin after a fall or accident
  • a shin that feels hot
  • a shin that’s visibly swollen
  • pain in your shins even when you’re resting

How are shin splints diagnosed?

Your doctor will usually be able to diagnose shin splints during a physical exam. They’ll ask you about the types of physical activities you participate in and how often you pursue them. Doctors may prescribe diagnostic tests such as imaging scans and X-rays if they suspect that you might be suffering from bone fractures or a condition other than shin splints.

Treating shin splints

Home remedies

Shin splints normally require that you take a break from certain physical activities and give your legs time to rest. The discomfort will usually resolve completely in a few hours or at most in a few days with rest and limited activity. The suggested amount of downtime is typically about two weeks. During this time, you can engage in sports or activities that are less likely to cause additional harm to your legs. These activities include swimming or walking. Your doctor will often suggest that you do the following:

  • keep your legs elevated
  • use ice packs to reduce swelling
  • take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, acetaminophen
  • wear elastic compression bandages
  • use a foam roller to massage your shins

Check with your doctor before restarting any activities. Warming up before exercising is also a good way to make sure your legs aren’t sore.

Surgery

Surgery is rarely used to treat shin splints. However, if your shins splints are causing severe pain and symptoms last for more than several months, your doctor may recommend surgery. This surgery is known as a fasciotomy. In this procedure, your doctor will make small cuts in the fascia tissue surrounding your calf muscles. This can potentially relieve some of the pain caused by shin splints.

Can shin splints be avoided?

Steps you can take to avoid getting shin splints include:

  • wearing shoes that fit well and offer good support
  • using shock-absorbing insoles
  • avoiding exercising on hard or slanted surfaces or uneven terrain
  • increasing exercise intensity gradually
  • warming up before exercising
  • making sure to stretch properly
  • engaging in strength training, specifically toe exercises that build calf muscles
  • not attempting to exercise through the pain

Any intensive exercise program requires strengthening of all surrounding muscle groups. Workouts should be varied to avoid overuse and trauma to any particular muscle group. You should refrain from any intense exercise program if severe muscle pain or other physical symptoms develop.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Exercises That Are Easy On Your Joints

Exercises That Are Easy On Your Joints

Having rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t give you a pass to escape working out. In fact, regular exercise can keep your joints and muscles strong. It can also improve your heart health. That’ll make you better equipped to deal with complications that may crop up.

Other benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Less pain
  • More stability in your joints
  • More energy
  • Improved physical function and performance
  • Better bone health
  • Improved quality of life

Stretches

To ease joint stiffness and widen your range of motion, you need to stretch your muscles. Morning is a good time for gentle stretching or yoga. It’s also a good idea any time before exercise.

Leg/hamstring stretch: While standing, lean forward as far as you comfortably can and reach toward your toes. Make sure you bend your knees a little to keep your legs soft. Hold it for 10-20 seconds.

Finger/wrist stretch: Bend your fingers forward, then backward, holding each stretch for 10–20 seconds each time. Then do the same with your hand to stretch your wrist muscles.

Cross-body arm stretch: Put your arm across the front of your body and gently hold it for 10-20 seconds, then switch to the other arm. Next, reach up to the sky with one arm and then the other, tilting each arm slightly over your head to stretch your shoulders.

Neck stretches: Drop your head forward gently, and then roll it slowly toward one shoulder and back toward the other.

Yoga Poses

Cobra: Lie face-down on the floor, keeping your toes pointed away from you. Press your palms into the floor and slowly raise your upper body. Keep your elbows close to your side.

Extended leg balance: While standing, put all your weight on one foot. Use a chair or table for support and slowly lift your leg and hold it with one leg on the outside of your knee. For an even better stretch, rotate your leg out to the side from that position and hold.

Seated spinal twist: Sit up tall in a chair and put your hand on the outside of the opposite thigh. Gently twist in the direction of your arm and hold. Then, switch to the other side.

Strength Exercises

RA can slowly take away muscle mass. So, it’s important to work out your muscles to help them stay strong.

If you have swollen joints, you can do isometric exercises. They hold your muscles in one place. They also don’t make you move your joints.

If your joints aren’t swollen, isotonic exercises (movements that work against resistance, like weightlifting) are good for building up muscles.

Talk to your doctor before you start any kind of strength training.

Abdominal contractions: To do this isometric exercise, lie on your back and put your hands on your stomach muscles. Lift your head and hold it. You can continue this exercise by squeezing the muscles that lifted your head without actually picking it up, too.

Palm press: This is isometric, too. Hold your hands so they face each other. One hand should have fingertips up and the other should have fingertips down. Press your palms together and hold.

Bicep lifts: While you sit in a chair with your arms resting on your thighs palms up, hold light weights in your hands. Then, raise them toward your shoulders, bending at the elbow.

Seated knee lift: With a resistance band over your legs in a seated position, raise one leg slowly, then switch sides.

Exercises for Endurance

Your heart muscle needs a workout just like your biceps or quads do. Aerobic exercises raise your breathing and heart rates. Your best bets are exercises that get your blood pumping and are easy on your joints.

Walking: Daily walks are an easy way to get into the exercise groove. Start with slow and short strolls if you’re new to regular exercise. Then work up to longer, faster walks as you get stronger. Be sure to stretch before you start and after you finish. Drink plenty of water, too.

Cycling: A stationary bike takes away your risk of a fall. Again, start slowly if you’re a beginner, and go faster as you get better.

Swimming: Water workouts are great when you have RA. They take weight off your joints. They also raise your heart rate. Water also acts as resistance against your muscles. That can make you stronger.

You can swim laps or join a water aerobics class. Use water weights for some more muscle work.

orthopedic care doctors, albuquerque

8 Tips to Fix Your Posture at Work

Article Written by Dr. Diana Sadiq | Found on AdvancingYourHealth.org

For the average working American, it is common to sit a minimum of eight hours a day and a majority of that behind a computer. I frequently see patients with neck and back pain that are not related to a specific injury, but rather from spending many hours at their desk (which usually involves using a computer). Sitting for extended periods of time can lead to a variety of health issues, including fatigue, muscle and joint pain.

Do you spend a lot of time behind a desk? If so, make sure your chair and work station are set up to fit you properly and influence good posture. Here are a few tips to help get you started: Read more

raking leaves proper technique

‘Leave’ Raking Back Pain Behind with These 7 Tips

Article found on UPMC Centers for Rehab Services here: http://share.upmc.com/2017/10/7-leaf-raking-safety-tips/

Autumn brings colder weather, fall sports, and colorful foliage on the trees.

The changing season also brings new chores and outdoor work, along with the potential for injuries while accomplishing these tasks. Leaf raking is one such task, with injuries ranging from strained back muscles to twisted knees.

The following tips can help make leaf raking a breeze this autumn.

Tips for Safe Leaf Raking

Stretch it out

Stretching or warming up before you begin is an important step helping prevent back pain when raking leaves.

“It is important to stretch or warm up the muscles involved in raking leaves beforehand to avoid any injury,” explains Michael Balandiat, an occupational therapy team leader at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services-Chapel Harbor. “Consider taking a short walk to stimulate circulation prior to leaf raking.”

Take 10 minutes to stretch properly and warm up your muscles. Areas of the body to focus on when stretching include the neck, back, hips, torso, wrists, and shoulders. Getting your heart rate elevated slightly will also help as you prepare to rake.

Keep proper form

Using proper form when raking leaves can significantly reduce the chance of injuries.

“Hold the rake handle close to your body and keep one hand near the top of the rake for better leverage,” explains Michael.

Stand with legs slightly bent and weight distributed evenly. Be sure to place the forward foot in position first, then follow with the hips and the rest of the body to ensure proper posture.  Try to maintain an upright posture and avoid twisting. Switch hands every few minutes to prevent overuse on one side of the body.

Avoid back pain during leaf raking with these tips

Lift properly

Improperly lifting heavy bags of wet leaves is one of the most common ways to sustain an injury while raking. Using proper lifting techniques lessens your chance of getting hurt.

“When lifting bags of leaves, keep the back straight and bend with the knees and hips. Lift manageable loads and allow the legs to do most of the lifting,” says Michael. “Try to avoid twisting and straining— especially if lifting heavy bags alone.”

Don’t pile too many leaves into one bag – especially if they are wet. If possible, rake leaves onto a tarp and have another person help move the tarp. If you must stoop to pick up leaves, face the pile and do not twist as you lift. Just make sure to keep the load light and be careful to use good body mechanics when lifting the tarp.

Use correct sized rakes

Many people do not realize it, but it is possible to injure yourself by using a rake that is the wrong size. A rake that is too long or too short will place unnecessary strain on the back, arms, and torso. Using a rake that is larger than normal may seem like an easy way to gather more leaves, but it can cause unnecessary straining and reaching. The rake should be a comfortable length when moving up and down. Using a lightweight, ergonomic rake can ensure that your elbows are slightly bent and help you maintain good posture while raking.

“Rakes that have padded or adjustable handles can reduce stress on your hands and back,” adds Michael.

Wear the right stuff

The clothing worn for leaf raking might not seem like it matters but it plays a large role in preventing injuries.

“Comfortable shoes with adequate arch support and non-skid soles provide the support needed for the length of time most people are on their feet while raking,” says Michael. “They can also help to reduce strain on the back and can prevent slipping on wet leaves.”

Gardening gloves with non-stick palms can help prevent blisters and save hands from jagged twigs and thorns. Wearing loose, breathable layers helps maintain body temperature. And remember to use sunscreen.

Take a break

Some people want to power through and get the raking done as quickly as possible. Taking short breaks to catch your breath, drink some water, stretch your muscles again, and admire your progress is more beneficial.

“A good rule of thumb is to take a 10- to 15-minute break for each hour of strenuous activity,” says Michael. “Your body will thank you.”

Don’t overdo it

Tackling the entire yard at one time can seem like an overwhelming and daunting task. Dividing up the yard into sections and committing to a section or two at a time can make things more manageable.

Safe Yard Work: Don’t Ignore Warning Signs

Sudden, sharp pain, or dull, incessant aching pain while raking leaves should never be ignored. Stop working if pain persists.

Listening to the signals your body is sending helps you understand when to stop before injuries occur. Reward a hard day’s work with a warm bath or shower to soothe achy muscles, and gentle stretching to cool down. If pain persists, especially after proper precautions and healing methods have been exhausted, talk to your doctor.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions ó such as sports injuries and fractures ó to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

 

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