It’s official. Fall has arrived in Plymouth. As much as we all like summer, we have to admit that Fall is the quintessential New England season: Halloween, crisp air, apple picking, the cranberry bogs flooded, the falling leaves and, of course here on the south shore, Thanksgiving. All are great things that evoke nostalgia and a sense that we’re living in the best place on earth.
Well… except the leaves. I mean – they look awesome on the trees and the colors are amazing. If you’ve never done a trip to Vermont or New Hampshire in the fall, you’re missing out. Those places are great outside of ski season (my brother raves about Stowe being a great place for lacrosse in summertime too) and you should think about a trip up that way this fall. It will take your mind off the raking.
Yes… the raking. Therein lies the problem with Fall in New England. All of those beautiful leaves end up in my backyard and covering the street drain in front of my house… which is at the bottom of a hill and when all of that winter snow melts… well, you get the picture. Cleaning them up is a necessary chore and it can be great exercise, as well. So this year you have a couple of options: hire one of those athletic school kids that has to pay for summer trips to cool places like Stowe or the Little League regionals… or use caution and get it done yourself.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that over 76,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors' offices, clinics and other medical settings for injuries related to non-powered garden tools, including rakes, in 2006. Raking requires a number of different movements; including twisting, bending, lifting, and reaching, that utilize several different muscle groups. It’s a workout, after all, and you can derive benefits from it, but don’t go hastily and end up in our clinic. Here are some tips to help you get through the leaves after they’ve ceased to be beautiful.
1) Warm up prior to breaking out the rake. A 10 minute brisk walk to get those muscles going.
2) Wear the proper shoes with a rubber sole in order to avoid “slip and fall” issues.
3) Cover your hands in some work gloves so that you don’t get blisters.
4) Choose the right weapon. Make sure your rakes, like your golf clubs, are a fit for your height.
5) Vary your movements. Don’t forget to switch hands to balance your workout.
6) Avoid twisting your body. Face the enemy head on to preserve your lower back.
7) Don’t over-do it (especially if you’re not a regular athlete). There’s always next weekend.
8) Bend at the knees to pick up your piles. Make raking day “leg day”.
9) Drink plenty of water. Stay hydrated. Fluids during helps recovery after.
10) Take some time and stretch a bit afterwards. Or, this is also a good time to spark up the hot tub, if you have one, pour a glass of pumpkin ale, if you’ve drank water during the ordeal, and have a nice relaxing soak while waiting for… the snow.
Happy Fall friends.