4 Tips to protect your back raking leaves
Raking leaves can strain one’s back, shoulders and wrists to the point of injury. Low back or neck injury brought on by such activity is common
The work of raking involves twisting, reaching, pulling, bending and lifting repetitively and with weight. Even for a regularly active person, raking leaves can be challenging. It can land someone in a doctor’s office.
Tip 1: Don’t Stay in the Same Position
When raking think about adding variety into your posture. Planting your foot and pulling and twisting in a repetitive motion is hard on your back. Repetition can eventually cause back sprain and stress out your neck and shoulders and lead to chiropractic care for relief
The perfect raking position involves your ankles, knees, hips, arms—moving as many body parts as possible. Step your right foot forward and left foot back for 5 to 10 pulls, then reverse (left foot forward, right foot back).
Tip 2: Give Yourself a Break
Weekend warriors often tackle too much yard work into a single session. Small breaks are important to injury prevention. You may not feel pain while you’re raking, but pushing yourself too far, such as raking for 6 hours straight, will cause inflammation in your muscles and joints.
While taking a break drinking water is a good idea, to keep your muscles hydrated and doing a different task between raking sessions, such as cleaning a flower bed, refreshes your posture and spine.
Tip 3: Dress for Movement and Weather
Wearing a hat and layers will keep you comfortable outdoors. Your clothes should also allow you to move freely. Supportive shoes are important, as good foot support can prevent lower back pain and minimize injury. Gloves also go a long way to offering a firm, supportive hand grip while preventing blisters.
Tip 4: Use the Strap and Gloves if Using a Leaf Blower
If you prefer a leaf blower over a rake, always use the strap that comes with leaf blower, so you don’t just use your arms. if the handles don’t fit you correctly, and you have to squeeze hard, use gloves to help support your grip.
The blower strap should rest on the opposite shoulder from the side of your body that the device is closest. And, just like raking, make sure you switch the blower to different sides of your body every few minutes, and keep moving your body as opposed to staying in the same position.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you work outdoors to keep your yard looking great and your spine feeling even better.
Dr. Hardy of Parkway Back and Foot Clinic is always available if you do stress your body and would be happy to make you feel better.