Leaf Raking Tips: Six Ways To Save Your Back

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Fall colors are at their peak right now. While that means great opportunities for photographers, sightseers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, it has a different meaning for homeowners—back pain due to leaf raking.

Every fall, thousands of Wisconsinites hurt their backs raking leaves, cleaning gutters and doing other seasonal yard work. In fact, according to the Home Safety Council, one in five buyers of rakes, ladders, and other home products will need medical attention this year. Fortunately, there are a number of steps homeowners can take to help avoid these problems. Here are some tips, courtesy of Wisconsin’s Advanced Pain Management clinics:

1. Warm up. Raking uses many muscles in your body—arms, shoulders, and upper and lower back. Warming up with a few gentle stretching exercises and a short walk around the block before you even pick-up the rake could save you pain tomorrow.

2. Use proper tools. A rake that is the appropriate height and weight will help reduce the need to hunch over while raking. Before buying the proper equipment, test it out in the store to see how it feels, and make sure it is the proper size for you and the type of work that will be done.

3. Avoid twisting and hunching. To keep your back aligned, try to stand as straight as is comfortable with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart. In addition, you should avoid twisting your upper torso because it can aggravate the muscles in your back. Instead, turn your whole body.

4. Vary your movements while raking. People tend to favor one hand or side of their body when they’re raking. To avoid over-working the same muscles, try switching sides every few minutes to avoid muscle fatigue.

5. Pace yourself and know your limits. Ease into fall yard work and take regular breaks every 15 to 20 minutes. Stop, walk around, stretch and enjoy the beautiful fall colors. These frequent breaks will give you time to relax, rejuvenate, and enjoy the fall weather.

6. Exercise year-round. People who exercise year round are less likely to injure themselves while doing outdoor chores, as their muscles are more accustomed to physical activity.

For more information, please visit www.apmhealth.com.