The seasons and times are always changing, this follows the saying that the only constant is change. There are great things about fall and the change from summer to winter weather. The leaves change from green to robust beautiful shades of red and yellow, the rain washes everything clean making the air smell fresh, the colder temperatures mean that we can wear our favorite comfortable flannels, sweatshirts, and jackets, and of course, there are the holidays.
Unfortunately, this change in season also leads to the possibility of new injuries. Those beautifully colored leaves on the trees fall and someone has to pick them up. Many people will be out in their yards and streets cleaning up leaves, raking, scooping and lifting. Those movements are a challenge to the back as flexion and twisting of the spine increases pressure on our intervertebral discs. This is the mechanism for “throwing your back out” or in other words, spraining your lumbar discs. Make sure to use proper lifting, bending, and squatting technique when you are working on the clean up around your house.
Also, those leaves are slick, as the ones on the bottom stay wet the longest and become very dangerous. There can also be frost and ice on the ground as temperatures drop. So watch out if you are walking, running, riding a bike, or even driving. I hate wet leaves as they have taken me down several times in my life. If you get taken down or are involved in a motor vehicle collision due to the slick ground, possible injuries could be a sprained ankle, knee, wrist, shoulder, back and neck (whiplash or cervical acceleration-deceleration).
The cooler temperatures mean that we are also needing to dress smarter to stay warm. Being comfortable is important, so no cotton on these cold/wet days as they lose their ability to keep us warm as soon as they get wet. Natural fabrics like wool or a synthetic blend will keep you much warmer. Also, make sure when exercising, warm- up slower and more deliberately as the colder weather affects your muscles. The fancy term is thixotropy, this means that muscles are able to stretch more effectively without tearing when they are warm. Luckily, one of the skeletal muscles jobs, besides moving us around is to produce heat. They will warm up in colder temperatures but this will likely take longer to happen. Improper and insufficient warm-ups can lead to a muscle strain or “pull.” Common muscles to strain are the calves, hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors.
Fall is a beautiful time of the year, but make sure to be careful when working around the house, watch out for your traction and stay in control when walking, cycling and driving, make sure to dress warm and elongate those warm-ups when exercising. If you find yourself with your back hurting, have a fall, car accident, or pull a muscle… make sure to get the help you need. Give us a call here at Milwaukie Spine and Sport. We specialize in injury rehab and can help you love the way you move.
Written by Jordan Wilde
Milwaukie Spine and Sport