Use care when it’s time to rake

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Low back pain can be a problem in the fall

Fall is a beautiful time of year but it also brings about work that is very physical. It is time to rake the leaves, put the patio furniture away and pull out the summer flowers. This can be demanding for the low back muscles that may not typically be required to do this type of work on a daily basis.

This is where physical therapists see the most injuries to the low back: When you ask your muscles to do a demanding job that it is not used to doing and that are not in shape to do, according to the staff at Cape Regional Physical Therapy.

As people age, bone strength and muscle elasticity and tone tend to decrease. The discs in the spine begin to lose fluid and flexibility, which decreases their ability to cushion the vertebrae. Pain can occur when, for example, someone lifts something too heavy or overstretches, causing a sprain, strain or spasm in one of the muscles or ligaments in the back. If the spine becomes overly strained or compressed, a disc may rupture or bulge outward.

Nearly everyone has low back pain sometime in their life. Men and women are equally affected. It occurs most often between ages 30 and 50, due in part to the aging process but also as a result of sedentary lifestyles with too little exercise. The risk of experiencing low back pain from disc disease or spinal degeneration increases with age. It could be exacerbated when you go to rake the leaves and bend or twist too much and pull or overwork the muscles.

Can this injury or condition be prevented?

As experts in restoring and improving mobility and movement in people’s lives, physical therapists play an important role not only in treating persistent or recurrent low back pain, but also in preventing it and reducing your risk of having it come back.

Physical therapists can teach you how to use the following strategies to prevent back pain:

  • Participate in regular strengthening and stretching exercises to keep your back, stomach, and leg muscles strong and flexible
  • Keep your body in alignment, so that it can be more efficient when you move
  • Keep good posture-don’t slouch!
  • Use good body positioning at work, home or during leisure activities.
  • Keep the load you are lifting close to your body
  • Ask for help when lifting heavy objects
  • Use an assistive device, such as a dolly or wheelbarrow, to transport heavy objects
  • Maintain a regular physical fitness regimen-staying active can help to prevent injuries


What kind of physical therapist do i need?

All physical therapists are prepared through education and experience to treat people who have low back pain. You may want to consider:

  • A physical therapist who is experienced in treating people with orthopedic or musculoskeletal problems.
  • A physical therapist who is a board certified specialist or who completed a residency or fellowship in orthopedic physical therapy. This therapist has advanced knowledge, experience, and skills that may apply to your condition.
  • Get recommendations from family and friends or from other health care providers.
  • When you contact a physical therapy clinic for an appointment, ask about the physical therapists’ experience in treating people with low back pain.
  • During you first visit with the physical therapist, be prepared to describe you symptoms in as much detail as possible, and say what makes your symptoms worse


Cape Regional Physical Therapy has three locations in Cape May County, including 2087 Shore Road/ Suite 24 iN Seaville, 223 N. Main St. in Cape May Court House, and the PT department at Cape Regional Hospital, 2 Stone Harbor Blvd. Call 463-3188 for more details.


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