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Fall has snuck its way to the forefront, and with it, those brisk mornings and brilliant colors.  Even more so, one of New England’s favorite fall sports is here…Apple Picking! While preparing ourselves for the crisp, sweet crunch of our favorite apple variety (mine is Honeycrisp) and all of the baked goods that come along with them, let us consider how we go about this tradition.

With any change in activity, even apple picking, the ugly face of injury becomes a possibility.  For peace of mind, here are a few suggestions to help in reducing the risk of injury while preparing for apple picking.

Warming Up

As with any physical activity, a good warm-up is essential in risk reduction.  We do not expect you to perform an hours’ worth of stretches, nor should you feel obligated to! It is apple picking, after all, so make sure to enjoy your time!

So, what should you loosen up? It is worthwhile to make sure your shoulders are nice and loose for reaching out.  A few shoulder rolls clockwise and counter-clockwise through pain-free, comfortable ranges should suffice in waking up the muscles supporting your arm, providing every needed support for reaching based activities such as you guessed it! Apples. 

Time to Grab Those Apples!

When you approach the desired fruit, be considerate of the distance you are reaching.  It can be fairly easy (and justifiably so) to underestimate the impacts of reaching far for a relatively light object.  

At most, we want to reach at most to arm’s length, the closer the better.  As it is tempting to reach for the apple deep into the tree, keep in mind the position can compromise shoulder mechanics and neck posturing.  To prevent these potential harms, reach directly in front of you with a relax bend of the elbow, shoulders, and neck gently drawn back. 

Use of equipment such as step ladders when safe can help reduce the need to reach out of your most stable and supported positions.  Acquire help from experienced apple picking employees as needed for those hard to reach apples you absolutely need in your pie.

These are just a few suggestions to consider when enjoying a good time with family and friends.  Apple picking is in no way a spectator sport; with all of the memories, created going through the process while enjoying the laughs (and photos) that come with it. 

By practicing these recommendations, it will ensure your ability to enjoy the fruits of your labor.  If you have any further questions on how to make your fall past times safe and memorable, please reach out to your friendly Physical Therapist. Until then, cheers, stay safe, and bake some delicious apple pies!