YARMOUTH, Maine — YARMOUTH (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- As the leaves begin to fall we grab the rakes and head outside, but if you're not someone who regularly works out you could do some damage to your body.
We all make mistakes when raking leaves or shoveling snow, so we went to a chiropractor for some advice on the best form. Dr. Allyson Coffin runs Align with Wellness in Yarmouth, where she sees back injuries all too often.
One of the most common mistakes people make while raking is only using one side of their body, based on whether they're left or right-hand dominated. People also tend to over-extend while raking. Coffin suggests switching sides every 15 minutes, taking plenty of breaks, drinking lots of water, and icing any sore spots.
Coffin also says while picking up leaves, be sure to bend at the knees; many people tend to bend and pick leaves up with their hand against the rake, then twist from that position to dump. Instead, try to rake those leaves directly onto a tarp that you can then pull away.
As for the snow, be sure you are pushing squarely behind the shovel, keeping your hips straight. Pick up small loads with the shovel close to your body, and drop them into a pile next to you - do not throw snow over your shoulder.
One more tip: footwear is key to your body's alignment and overall strength. You can have your feet tested for shoe insoles that will help you stand straighter. I did, and it turns out I've lost two of the arches in my feet.
"We have three arches in our feet," says Dr. Coffin. "One in the middle, which everybody knows about; one on the side, and one under your toes. Some of us lose our arches as we grow up because we are put in confining shoes when we are kids and our arches get smushed, so we don't have very good proprioception or awareness of space. If you're missing those arches it's hard to maintain balance and it's harder on your spine because you don't have a good support system. Our feet are the only thing that touch the ground, so if you don't have good arches, you don't have good support."
As always, these workouts will be easier if you're already in shape and working out regularly.
Website: Align With Wellness
The last time Dr. Allyson Coffin gave us advice, she walked through our newsroom, fixing our form at our desks. From adjusting the height of our computer screens, to cushions we should sit on for better core strength, she had a lot of ideas.