Are your shoulders bothering you after raking leaves?

Have you been spending all of your free time raking leaves?  I can totally relate…our new house is surrounded by woods and lots of trees, which I LOVE, but it also means lots of raking.  Fall is a time filled with lots of yardwork whether it is raking or gardening.  And we see quite a few people in our office with pain after a long weekend of yardwork.  Most commonly, shoulder pain with raking and gardening.

While the ideal way to rake would put more emphasis on your legs instead of your arms, there’s no way to not use your arms for raking.  It really is a whole body workout (and burns quite a few calories I might add).  If you end up with sore shoulders after a weekend of raking, chances are you’ve had some shoulder pain in the past even if it was pretty minor.  Granted, there are instances when someone pulls a muscle acutely, but most of the time, that pain indicates an overuse injury.

Ever heard of rotator cuff syndrome?  It’s common as adults age because the tendons get worn out similar to a clothes line that hangs outside for years and years and becomes brittle.  This also combines with some muscle imbalances with the upper back, poor posture and lifting habits, and results in pain.  What happens is the tendons get pinched in the shoulder joint and also aren’t strong enough to provide the stability at the shoulder.  So then when you are doing a strenuous task such as raking, the arm and shoulder can get very sore.

The best thing you can do is rest it and ice it for 15 minutes at a time.  This will help clear up any inflammation that is in the shoulder joint and help decrease the pain. It’s also important that you address the true issue as well since rest and ice are temporary treatments.  Most people think, it’s not that bad, it’ll just go away on its own.  Well, you will likely continue to irritate it and the longer you go without addressing some of the other contributing issues such as posture, mobility, and strength, the longer it will take to get better down the road.  See a physical therapist to get started on treatment and get your shoulders working in top condition before it goes on for too long.  If you’re near Hales Corners, Muskego or Franklin area, feel free to reach out to me and I’d be happy to take a look at it for you.  Shoot me an email at or call me at (414) 331-2323.



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