The roses are wilting away, leaves are slowly changing and the rain has made its triumphant return to the Pacific Northwest—autumn is upon us in Portland! Whether you are piling leaves before pickup day or making sure your plants are ready for the winter frost, it’s important to be safe and take care of your body to avoid starting the fall season with an injury. The doctors and nurses at The Portland Clinic want to make sure you stay healthy this time of year. To help avoid aches and pains, they have compiled some of their favorite tips to help you avoid turning some fall yard work into an unexpected trip to one of our healthcare facilities.
In every sense of the word, we want you to stay covered. Protection from the elements, irritants and sun are vital while managing yard work. Even with cloud cover, sun, especially in the afternoon, can be harmful if you’re not wearing sunscreen. Use an SPF of 30 or higher, and look for the words “broad spectrum” or “UVA and UVB protection” on the label. Long-sleeve clothing is a great way to stay warm, dry and protected from the sun’s rays.
Wear protective clothing: gloves, boots and safety goggles when dealing with sharp tools, such as lawn mowers or shears. Small airborne sticks, rocks and other sharp debris are always a risk factor during yard work. Additionally, make sure to keep a strong awareness of your fingers and toes when dealing with sharp equipment, especially the powered variety.
Check before you dig
Know what’s below your property before taking a spade to the grass. Wires, gas lines and other important, and potentially dangerous, objects may be laid shallowly under your yard. Oregon law requires anyone digging on private property—contractor or homeowner alike—to call Oregon 811 at least two days prior to digging.
Lift with your legs
Whether it’s the heavy lawn mower, a bag of mulch or a wheelbarrow, make certain to lift any heavy load with your legs. Begin with your back straight, and bend your knees and hips into a squat position. Push with your glutes through your heels, while keeping your back straight, with a firm grip on the load. It is essential you do not bend forward with your back to lift a heavy weight–the tremendous strain on your lower back muscles and spine are not worth the potential pain or damage. Also, never lift heavy cargo over your shoulders.
Avoid a slip and fall
It’s getting wet out there! Making the adjustment from wet concrete at poolside to wet leaves on the road is easy as long as you remember to stride carefully. When walking on the sidewalk, or driving down the street, prepare for slippery leaves. Wearing slip-resistant shoes while doing yard work or walking the dog can be a lot easier on your balance, and can prevent any unnecessary pulled or strained muscles due to a slip or fall.
Work in teams
A teammate is always a great idea when attacking your yearly yard work. Whether you’re picking up a heavy load, cleaning the gutters or trimming trees, having a partner to spot and hold the ladder, or to distribute heavy weight is a great method of ensuring your outdoor maintenance is safe and injury-free.
Stay in sight
As the winter approaches, our beautiful summer days slowly start dimming earlier. Whether you’re in the yard doing work, or out for a walk, it is important to stay visible. Make sure you have a flashlight or glow sticks and reflective clothing.
Don’t forget Leaf Day pickup
Safety should always be a number-one priority when engaging in physical activity. A few standard checks and double checks will go a long way when tending to your fall yard work. The doctors and nurses at The Portland Clinic encourage all of our neighbors to pay close attention to their surroundings and health during the fall season. If you have any medical concerns or would like to schedule a checkup this season, please contact us at 503-223-3113 or book an appointment online.