Raking It In: Oh, My Back!

06 November 2009 3 comments

The trees in my yard are old friends of mine.

Through their grace, I can keep my perspective.  Their shade protects us from the summer heat and their vivid colors warm us when the chilly winds of Autumn begin to blow.  The ensuing blanket of leaves hide the remains of the tulip beds.

When it's time to pull the rake -- or leaf blower -- from the garage, I know my time spent in the yard will be futile.  I can already see the next wave of leaves ready to fall from their branches.

My back begins to hurt just by looking at the leaves.

Most people live with their mild lower, middle or upper-back tension, but in the fall when they begin to deal with the onslaught of leaves they develop more serious pain. 

I like to call this "Raking Back Pain".

Ah yes, the wonderful memories we have of bright blue skies, sugar maples in golden splendor, children jumping and laughing (and messing up!) in our leaf piles -- and Monday morning stiffness and pain following a Sunday afternoon Leaf Raking/Blowing Marathon.

Of course it's easy to choke down a few Advil, a breakfast on the run, off to work and hope for the best.  But sometimes this type of back pain can point to real injury and ignoring such can cause increased muscle spasms.

Let's talk about avoiding this problem and different ways to solve it.

First: prevention.  A great way to keep yourself pain-free is to stretch before you even exert yourself.  If the weather is chilly, muscles can easily get cold and vulnerable muscle groups will spasm in cold environments.  Stretch well and slowly and with deep breaths.   As you stretch, focus on the tightness in the muscles and imagine them opening up.  Dress yourself warmly, especially in the neck and the lower back -- and feet.

For lower back pain, slowly and gently bend forward at the waist as you are able...lean over into the side wall of your house with your hands.   To stretch the middle back, stretch from the side (arm over your ear -- keep your torso in line without leaning forward or back).  Make sure you stretch after exertion as well.

If it is too late (!!!!!!!!!!) and you are already in pain, climb into a hot bath, replete with a box of Kosher Salt...which can be had at your local grocery store and is a stronger mineral than Epsom Salt.  It does relax muscle spasm, especially from working in the cold outdoors.   You may also apply pressure to tight muscles with gentle and circular motion -- and keep warm!

You may drink Cinnamon Tea which warms the muscles -- the channels and collaterals (as we say in Asian Dietary Medicine).

If your pain persists, get yourself to see someone (an Acupuncturist can help!).

Most Raking Back Pain, however, can be prevented by handing the rake and/or leaf blower -- to your teenager. 

While you sit on the porch drinking Hot Cider.


  • Unknown said...

    how beautiful. you combine poetry, health and reflection on the seasonal change. thanks for sharing and I'm glad I'm in Jerusalem at the moment and blissfully disconnected from leaves in the yard! by the way, in future you may want to hire the West High Raking for Rockets club. That's our secret to raking back pain!


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