The crisp cool air, the beautiful foliage, bonfires, football games, pumpkin patches…all perfect descriptions of autumn! While most enjoy all the wonders that autumn brings to our area, it does not go without an increased chance for low back pain. As those beautiful leaves start to fall, raking begins. Using proper mechanics while raking can help reduce the chance for pain and injury can make outdoor work like raking leaves a breeze.
Wear appropriate clothing
Did you ever consider that what you wear to rake leaves may make a difference in preventing pain? Wearing supportive shoes helps give you a stable foundation to rake, lift, and carrying the leaves. Foot levelers orthotics are a great option to add support to any shoe! Proper support of the foot allows support for the entire kinetic chain…ankles, knees, hips, and back! It is recommended to wear breathable clothing to whisk away moisture, as raking can be a workout. Wearing gloves is a great idea to help prevent those nasty blisters that can occur.
Stretch before and after raking leaves
Simple stretches to warm up the legs, low back, core, and shoulders can be a real lifesaver when it comes to performing yard work without injury. Start by taking a brief walk around the neighborhood to slightly elevate your heart rate and warm muscles up. For more tips see this link.
The correct fit of the rake
Do you wear shoes that are too big or too small for you and expect to perform at your best? Uh, no. So simply put, don’t use a rake that isn’t the right size for you. Make sure you can adjust the handle of the rake, so it is a comfortable length for you to maneuver. Ensure the rake is lightweight as well, as leaves can be heavy!
Posture when raking leaves
When raking, keep the knees slightly bent and the abdominals slightly contracted. Stand with one leg slightly forward but ensure that your body weight is balanced between both feet. Keep the rake close to you to avoid overreaching. Grasp the handle with one hand near the top of the handle to gain leverage. Alternate hands every few minutes to avoid shoulder and wrist strain.
Take a break
Do not overdo it! It can be overwhelming to rake the entire yard in one time period. According to UPMC, a general rule of thumb is to take a 10-minute break each hour. While taking 10, this allows the perfect time to catch your breath, stretch if you are feeling sore or tight, and drink water!
Picking up leaves
Disposal of the leaves is generally when people run into trouble when it comes to pain. If you are transferring the leaves to a different area, rake the leaves onto a tarp. Tarps are lightweight and easy to drag through the yard. Be sure to not overload the tarp even though they are lightweight, to avoid strain when pulling.
If you are filling bags with leaves to dispose of, be sure to follow proper lifting techniques both when lifting the leaves into the bag and when transporting the full bag. Begin by creating several small piles to avoid strain when lifting the leaves. Piles of leaves are nothing to be scoffed at. Leaves incapacity can be heavy, especially when they are wet. When it comes time to lift the bag, be sure to implement proper lifting techniques: abdominals in, keep the bag close to your torso, bend with the knees, lift straight up.
Contact us today to “leaf” pain behind and enjoy these gorgeous autumn days. The team at Miller Sports & Family Chiropractic is eager to help you stay active, stay healthy, and just feel better.