Leaves are falling and it’s time to block off your weekend for fall yard clean up. Before you tackle the daunting task of raking and bagging all those leaves, read these helpful, common sense tips to help prevent potential back aches and pains.
Warm Up and Stretch: Raking leaves is considered exercise and like any pre-workout regimen you need to warm up your cold muscles to prevent injury and strains. Jogging in place for a few minutes will get your heart rate up and blood flowing to all your muscle groups. Stretch your back muscles by bending forward to touch your toes. Another important stretch is to squat into deep knee bends without twisting at the waist. Don’t forget to stretch your shoulders and arms. Hold each stretch for 8 seconds, release and repeat at least 2 times.
Choose Your Rake: The best rake to use will be one that allows you to reach leaves a short distance away from your feet without having to bend or twist. Rakes that are too tall or too short will force you to contort your body and cause muscle strain and pain. A new rake is worth the investment and can last for years.
Maintain Good Form: Don’t hunch over the rake. Proper position for raking will require you to keep your legs slightly bent, to keep your weight centered and to reach with your arms and not your back. While raking do not keep your feet planted in one position. Pivot your feet in the direction you are raking. While bagging the leaves be sure to squat and use your knees instead of bending over at the waist.
Take Breaks: Raking requires a series of repetitive motions which exhaust muscles. You should focus on switching your lead arm throughout your leaf raking session. For example, rake with your right arm forward for 10 minutes and then switch to your left arm for 10 minutes. Take stretching breaks often and drink lots of water!
Recover: After the work is done, be sure to stretch again. If you feel discomfort use ice to soothe the muscles.
Dr. Kenneth Ross, at Altamonte Health and Wellness, treats back pain in patients of all ages. Call (407) 545-4389 to schedule your initial consultation.