Lots of beautiful leaves falling in your yard calls for more yard work–especially raking! Unfortunately, if you use improper form, raking leaves can leave you with sore shoulders, low back pain, aching knees, muscle strains, and other pains associated with poor raking mechanics. To help you prepare before tackling that leaf pile, here are five tips to help keep you safe during this fall season.
How to rake leaves safely and pain free
1 – Choose proper equipment.
- Shoes: Choose warm shoes that allow for good spacing for your toes.
- Rake: Raking is a repetitive task. It’s important to have the right size rake. Choose one that is tall enough for you to use without having to bend over, and make sure it isn’t too heavy for you to maneuver for a prolonged period of time.
- Leaf Blower: Does your leaf blower have a strap? Use it! Place the strap over your head on the shoulder opposite the side of your body from the device. This keeps your center of gravity normal and takes the weight off of one shoulder.
- Hand Protection: To prevent your hands from cuts, blisters, or insect bites, we recommend wearing a pair of gloves.
- Eye protection: Whether you have allergies or not, wearing goggles or glasses can prevent dirt, dust, or other objects from getting into your eyes and cause irritation.
2 – Warm up.
Raking is more than just a simple yard work task–it is exercise. And just like any other exercise, it is important to stretch and warm up your body in preparation to move to reduce the risk of developing muscle strains and joint pain.
We encourage you to spend 10-15 minutes stretching prior to starting your raking activities, focusing on areas including the wrists, hands, neck, shoulders, back and hips.
3 – Hydrate.
Again, this is heavy exercise! Make sure you are drinking water before, during, and after this activity.
4 – Mind your form.
Bend your legs with one foot ahead of the other in the direction that you are raking. Center your weight between your legs. Try to avoid twisting, as this can put you at risk for straining your back and knees. Keep the rake close to your body to reduce the load on your spine. Keep your core engaged by pushing your belly out, this will help to stabilize your low back and the rest of your body.
When lifting, get as close to the load as possible. Bend and lift at your knees instead of your back. Try to keep your back straight and engage your core muscle by pushing your belly out. Avoid twisting motions to protect your back.
5 – Switch positions and take breaks.
To reduce the risk of developing an overuse injury, try to switch your body positions and swap your hands. Avoid pushing yourself too hard and allow your body to take short rest breaks, especially if you are about to lift. If using a leaf blower, try to switch sides with this as well.
What to do if you develop an injury while raking leaves
If you happen to injure yourself, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with us. We are able to assess and properly treat injuries from muscle strains, backaches, shoulder and knee pain, or whatever injury you may have developed while trying to partake in your yard work.
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