How to Safely Rake Leaves While Avoiding Back Pain
Raking leaves is one of the most tedious tasks that accompanies the changing weather each fall. But how do you prevent back pain while raking leaves?
The National Spine Health Foundation has gathered these tips to help you avoid injuries while raking leaves and doing other yard work this fall.
Practice Proper Form.
One of the best ways to reduce back pain from raking leaves is to practice proper form. Stand up straight, bend your knees slightly, and evenly distribute your weight by placing one foot slightly in front of the other. Occasionally switch your position to avoid overextending one side of your body. You also want to be careful not to twist or overextend your back as you rake leaves. Instead, move closer to hard to reach spots or invest in a rake with a longer handle.
Use a Tarp.
Many back injuries occur after lifting something too heavy or following repetitive motions with poor form. Rake dry leaves onto a tarp (you can also use an old bed sheet or towel) and ask a friend or loved one to help you move them to help prevent unintended neck or back pain.Just remember to use safe lifting techniques.
Gravity is Your Friend.
When it comes to raking, gravity is your friend -especially if your yard has a hill or incline! Stand in a safe spot at the bottom of the hill and rake the leaves toward you to reduce undue strain and the likelihood of injury.
While you may not become noticeably overheated outside as the weather cools, raking leaves is still a strenuous activity that requires extra hydration! Remember to take frequent water breaks to rehydrate. If it’s extra cold, a caffeine-free tea can warm you up and help keep you hydrated
Dress for the Occasion.
Supportive shoes, warm layers, and gloves are all essential to preserving spine health while raking leaves. The right shoes -ideally boots or sneakers -will support your spine while you stand for long periods of time. Dressing in warm layers will prevent the tightening of your back and neck muscles. And a good pair of work gloves will help protect your hands from blisters and cuts; even a small amount of pain can cause your body to react instinctively and potentially damage your spine (especially if you have an underlying spinal condition).
As you clean up your yard this fall season, it’s important to keep your back safe while performing manual tasks like raking leaves. These tips can help you avoid injuries and protect your spinal health. If you do experience back pain, numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, or other injuries after raking leaves –or similar activities –talk to your doctor.