There is a long list of all the things we look forward to in the autumn season - crisp fall weather, colorful landscape, the holidays, or all things pumpkin spice. Raking piles and piles of leaves usually does not make that list! As much as I enjoy to changing colors, the chore of raking up all those leaves after they fall off the trees can be a pain. Not only a nuisance, but a physical pain! Raking and lifting bags of leave is a repetitive motion that can do harm to your body while you clean up your yard. Keep these tips in mind to avoid injury this fall!
1) Warm up and take it slow. Raking is a seasonal activity, so giving your body time to warm up and adapt is imperative. Try walking for a few minutes or arm circles to warm up. Don’t try to rake all the leaves at once - pacing yourself can prevent overuse
2) Use a rake that is comfortable for your size and strength. A rake that is too heavy or too tall is harder to maneuver
3) Avoid twisting your back while raking, use your legs to shift your weight instead. Throwing leaves to the side or over the shoulder can lead to muscle strain
4) When picking up the leaves, bend at the knee and not the waist! By doing so, you can recruit your leg muscles to support the weight, rather than put all the weight onto the back.
5) Keep bags of leaves small and manageable. The heavier the bag gets, the easier it will be to injury yourself picking them up and moving them. Opt to use a wheelbarrow to transport bags if possible
6) Try switching sides to avoid overuse on one side of the body or the other. Setting a timer for a few minutes can remind you to switch rake arms frequently.
7) Opt for slip resistant shoes, especially if leaves are wet. While raking, keep your feet shoulder width apart to improve your base of support and maintain your balance.
8) Cool down when you’re finished with gentle stretches to relieve muscle tension.