How to safely rake leaves without hurting yourself

by | Nov 13, 2023

Autumn in Canada – what a spectacular display of colours – red, orange and yellow leaves scattered all along our landscape. As the sun shines on these colours you cannot help but to smile at all the beautiful colours.


You are looking at these leaves scattered on the top of your lawn. And you know that the stack of brown paper bags needs to be filled with all of these leaves!!!

As physiotherapists and chiropractors – we know how it feels after you have been raking with your back bent forward and then lifting the rake to put the leaves up and over into a bag.
We have treated thousands of patients who thought they could rush through and get all the raking done at one time. And then the next morning their back is sore, achey, and they can hardly get out of bed.

Prevention is the best medicine!!!!

So we wanted to share with you our top 5 tips on how to rake leaves and avoid injuries.

Let’s get started!!!

Tip #1: Warm up before you start raking!!

Gentle stretches to warm up your muscles and make them more flexible.
Even a short walk can increase the blood flow to your muscles.
Focus on your back, shoulder, arms and legs.

How to safely rake leaves without hurting yourself

Tip #2: Choose the right rake

Choose one with an ergonomic handle
Choose one that fits your height
Choose one with an adjustable handle for less strain on your back/arms

How to safely rake leaves without hurting yourself

Tip #3: Use Good Posture

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
Keep your knees slightly bent.
Bend at your hips and knees NOT your back to bend down.
DO NOT twist your spine – turn your entire body to change direction.

How to safely rake leaves without hurting yourself

Tip #4: Use good raking technique

Push leaves instead of pulling them
Switch between pushing and gathering
Keep movement smooth and controlled
Face the leaves – keep your back straight – avoid sudden jerks or twisting your back
Keep the rake close to your body – do NOT reach out to grab leaves further away
Keep your knees bent just slightly – feet shoulder width apart
Start with one hand near the top of the rake and the other below it – switch hands often
Take breaks every 15 – 20 minutes
Stand up straight, stretch your back.
Drink some water.
This way you can reduce muscle fatigue and risk of strains.

Tip #5: Use good lifting technique

Lift bags with your legs NOT your back
Bend at your hips and knees and keep your back straight
Keep the bag close to your body.
Grab the bag and stand up with your back straight
Ask for help if the bag is too heavy.

How to safely rake leaves without hurting yourself

What happens if my back hurts after raking leaves?


Apply ice to the area for 10 minutes (not touching your skin) and lie down in the most comfortable position for you.  Allow your muscles to relax and reduce any inflammation.  


Avoid any other strenuous activities for the rest of the day. 
Here are some of our top recommendations.  Remember you should NOT feel pain while doing these activities. STOP immediately if you do feel pain from any of these movements

Third: Try these:

  1. Pillow under your knees while lying on your back OR pillow between your knees while lying on your side. If your neck and shoulders are sore then sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the ground and place a pillow on your lap and rest your arms on the pillow .  Now take some deep breaths allowing your back to slowly relax its muscles .
  2. Slowly and gently use your hands to bring one knee towards your chest breathing  slowly and hold for 10 seconds and then bring your leg back down.  Repeat with your other leg.  OR   Gently bring your right ear towards your right shoulder and stay for 10 seconds and then repeat with your other side.  Do this 3 times each side.  Do 3 times a day.
  3. Every hour try to walk around for 5 minutes if your pain will allow you.  Try to do shoulder shrugs and gentle shoulder circles in both directions.  Try to avoid long periods of not moving at all  – your muscles will stiffen up.

What do I do if I have pain after raking leaves and it does not get better?

If your pain continues into the next day then it is best to have a physiotherapist or chiropractor do a proper examination to find out what is causing your pain.  Do not ignore this pain and hope it will go away.  We know how to find the problem and help you get rid of your pain.

How to Rake leaves without injuring yourself.

Raking leaves CAN be a fun way to enjoy the season of autumn.  But you MUST take care of your body while doing this.  If you follow our tips listed above you can rake the leaves in your yard without the risk of muscle strains, back pain or other injuries.  

Frequently asked Questions:

1. When is the best time to rake leaves?

Wait until all the leaves have fallen to the ground.  Save your time and your body and wait until they are all dry and on the ground.

2. What should I wear to rake leaves?

Wear long sleeves  to avoid getting scratched, wear gloves to protect your hands, and long pants to protect your legs.

3. What else can help make it easier to rake leaves?

Take advantage of the wind – rake in the direction of the wind so then the leaves do not get blown backwards.


ABOUT 16th Ave Chiropractic and Physiotherapy

You have your own personal goals. Maybe you want to return to sport, work, recover from surgery or get ready for a vacation. After 40 years in Richmond Hill our highly trained and experienced chiropractors and physiotherapists know what treatment/exercises you need to help you reach your goals.
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Make an appointment by calling us or emailing and talk about how we can help you.

Call us at 905-709-7147 or email us at info@chirophysio16th.com