It’s that time again! In the northeast, we have the luxury of enjoying crisp temperatures that call for cozy sweaters, hot drinks, and crackling fireplaces. As beautiful as the foliage looks on the trees, any homeowner knows the unwanted chore of raking leaves is right around the corner. Many associate this task with the back pain that often comes from bending over for a long period of time, engaging in repeated raking movements. There’s ways to avoid this pain and make this a more enjoyable activity for you and your family.
Kristin Westover PT, MPT, CIMT, Clinical Director at Professional Physical Therapy, let us in on a few of the best practices when it comes to raking leaves:
Having the right gear can be a game changer.
You should make sure to wear comfortable clothing and supportive shoes. You may want to layer clothing so that you can adjust to feeling hot or cold while you rake. Protect your hands by wearing work gloves to help reduce the chance of blisters on your hands. Your glove should fit snugly, but not too tight.
Using a leaf rake that is suited to your height.
If you find that using an ergonomic snow shovel in the winter helps reduce back pain, you may want to consider using an ergonomic rake as well.
To transport large bundles of leaves across the yard, use a tarp.
Rake the leaves onto the tarp, then pull the tarp to take the leaves where you need them to be. This is a quicker and safer way than constantly bending over to manually pick up piles of leave to rake into a garbage bag or wheel barrow.
Rake downhill and with the wind if possible.
Let Mother Nature assist you…the job will go much more quickly and easily!
Maintain good posture by keeping your back straight and your knees bent.
Move your entire body to be closer to the area you are raking, rather than bend forward to get to hard to reach places.
Let your legs do some of the work.
Lay your rake down on a small pile of leaves and walk backward, rather than using your arms the entire time. This will help conserve energy especially if you have a particularly large yard.
Most importantly, know your limitations and don’t overexert yourself.
Make sure to take plenty of breaks and if all else fails, call the landscaper!
As much as we all love the beautiful colors of the leaves, raking is a task that has to be done one way or the other. Following these best practices will help you to avoid the common pains or injuries that are often accompanied by this repeated movement. They key is to reduce the strain on your back by maintaining proper posture, and in doing so, spending time in the yard raking leaves with your family will be more enjoyable and less of a pain for everyone involved. So make sure to layer up, use the appropriate tools, and follow these helpful tips for a successful raking day!
Experiencing back pain? Schedule an appointment with a Professional physical therapist by visiting https://www.professionalpt.com/physical-therapy-clinics-near-me/.