There’s no doubt. Fall has finally arrived on the West Coast! That means it’s time to wrap up your yard work for the season. It’s time to do your last maintenance and winterizing.
We’ve compiled a list of typical fall yard work tasks and share tips for doing them safely so your yard work doesn’t end up being a literal pain in the neck (or back or muscles):
Ensure you have a good rake to avoid re-raking your garden multiple times to collect all the leaves. Remember to use the ‘Big 3’ movement fundamentals. Anchor your shoulders blades down along your ribcage and keep your head up as much as possible. Try not to lean forward with your neck as this can cause strain and discomfort. Stagger your feet with one foot in front of the other for optimal balance.
Once you’re ready to load your piles of leaves into the compost bin, be sure to hinge at the hips and keep your spine neutral. If this repetitive bending motion is done with a rounded spine you can increase your chance of a back injury, even if the leaves aren’t that heavy to lift.
Weeding your beds
It’s an excellent time to remove any weeds before the cold season so your gardens look pretty, and you’ll have less to weed in the spring. Bring a foam pad to protect your knees when weeding, and don’t crouch or squat as that doesn’t support good balance as you pull weeds.
Wear gardening gloves when pulling weeds with your hands, and pinch weeds with your thumb and index finger as much as possible. If you’re using garden tools, regularly switch between your hands or take breaks regularly to avoid cramping in your hands and fingers.
Cutting the lawn
Your lawn may need one final cut of the season. Wear padded gloves when using the lawnmower as they cut down on some of the vibrations of the mower and its associated stress on your body. Keep your feet slightly apart (in line with your hips) while walking. If you’re struggling to push the mower through thicker grass, consider weed-eating the grass first to make pushing easier.
Putting away lawn furniture
If you need to put away your summer lawn furniture (like patio tables, chairs, and outdoor tables and couches), get the help of a friend. Before you move any furniture, plan where you’ll put it and what path you’ll take to get there. This ensures you and your friend can get there quickly without stopping and restarting needlessly. If possible, disassemble large pieces before moving them to lighten the load.
Plant your feet firmly on the ground, then lift heavy furniture with your hips and glutes, not your back. Take breaks as often as you need to avoid injury or muscle pain.
Other yard work health and safety tips
Here are a few other safety tips to mind as you’re doing your yard work:
- Warm-up. Do a few simple stretches before you start. This will warm up your muscles and can help you avoid injury and muscle stress after.
- Wear proper shoes. Runners are usually best to provide your feet with the arch support (and a proper posture) you need while walking on uneven ground or carrying heavy loads.
- Bring a friend. Not only can they keep you company, but they’ll be there right away if you get hurt or need assistance.
- Stay hydrated. In the summer, you should drink a cup of water every 15-20 minutes when working in the heat. When doing yard work in cooler weather, you might forget to drink. Bring your water bottle outside and drink often, especially if you feel dehydrated or thirsty.
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