How to safely rake leaves without hurting yourself
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.
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
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.
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.
What happens if my back hurts after raking leaves?
Third: Try these:
- 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 .
- 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.
- 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?
How to Rake leaves without injuring yourself.
Frequently asked Questions:
1. When is the best time to rake leaves?
2. What should I wear to rake leaves?
3. What else can help make it easier to rake leaves?
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.