It may come as a suprise to some, but getting injured while performing yard work is more common than you may think. Often times factors that lead to pain and injury includ improper form, overdoing it, and not proprerly preparing the body for the work. In today's blog we provide some tips to help keep you pain-free despite raking leaves this fall.
Avoid back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and wrist pain with this information!
SHOULD I “WARM-UP” BEFORE RAKING LEAVES? OR “COOL DOWN” AFTER?
While raking leaves may not be your typical form of exercise, it can be strenuous on the body. So the answer to both of those question is YES! You should “warm-up” and prepare your body for the chore.
Some things you can do include…
- Walk around the yard a couple of times to warm up your legs
- Trunk rotations to loosen up your back
- Windmill your arms forward, and backward
- Rotate your hands to warm up your wrists
- Gently turn your neck side-to-side, then up-and-down
- Hold a quick plank, either on your toes or knees, to warm up your core
Once you have completed your chore for the day, you may benefit from some gentle stretching to prevent some muscle soreness. Here are a few ideas…
- Stretch your right arm across the body, then switch and stretch the left arm
- Side bend to the left and hold briefly, then switch to side bend to the right
- Stretch your hipflexors. Kneel on the ground with your right foot planted, and your left knee on the ground. Gentrly push forward on the right side to feel the stretch in your left hipflexor. Hold for 8-10 seconds. Then switch sides.
DOES WHAT I WEAR MATTER WHILE RAKING LEAVES?
Actually, yes! When you are raking leaves, or doing any form of yard work, it is best to wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely. We also suggest that the clothes you wear are breathable, as you will likely warm up as you get moving!
You also should wear comfortable shoes that provide support when you are on your feet for a long period of time. Like a pair of tennis shoes with some arch support.
One other clothing item that may help, is a pair of gardening gloves. This will help prevent blisters and protect your hands from possible sharp twigs and thorns.
DOES MY “FORM” MATTER WHEN RAKING LEAVES?
Like all forms of activity, yes! There are factors in your form while raking leaves that can prevent or cause pain, discomfort, and possibly even injury. Here are a few tips for proper form:
- Keep your feet shoulder width apart, with one foot slightly in front of the other
- Legs should be slightly bent, with your weight evenly distributed between each foot
- Place one hand towards the top of the rake for leverage
- Bend forward through your knees, rather than your back
- Do your best to maintain upright posture
- Avoid twisting through the hips and back
- Lastly, switch hands every so often to avoid overusing one side of the body.
"WHAT ARE SOME OTHER TIPS TO HELP ME AVOID PAIN OR INJURY FROM RAKING LEAVES?"
Don’t Overdo It. It’s easy to push yourself to get the WHOLE yard done. However, that can be a lot of stress on the body. Especially if you haven’t been exercising a whole lot. If you are starting to feel sore or tired, stop for the day and pick back up when your body feels good again.
Take Breaks. Just like overdoing it, sometimes we want do not want to stop until the job is done. However, you will likely be able to complete more of the chore if you are taking semi-frequent breaks.
Don’t Fill Up Your Leaf Bags Too Full. Have you ever been running low on leaf bags so you went ahead and filled the ones you did have to the brim? It is easy to do when you want to save trips to the store… However, when it comes time to moving those overly full bags, you increase your risk for injury.
Keep your leaf bag load at a good weight that is safe and comfortable for you to move.
Pick Up Your Bags Properly. To follow-up on the previous tip, when it comes time to picking up and carrying your full yard bags to the curb, there are a few mistakes you want to avoid.
Here are some videos that apply to this topic well:
Drink Enough Water & Stay Fueled. Remember, raking leaves is hard work! Be sure to eat before you begin, and drink enough water before and throughout your chore. It’s easy to forget to drink enough water when it is cool out, but it is very important when you are doing physical activity.
Use A Comfortably-Sized Rake. Be sure to use a rake that does not require you to bend over, excessively reach, or one that is too large. It should be a comfortable length as you are raking. Also be mindful of the weight of your rake — you do not want something that is too heavy.
We hope you have a great fall, and get through your fall chores without any pain! If you do suffer with aches, pain, or even injury after you fall chores gives us a call so we can help relieve you from these problems. Our office number is (913) 888-0014.