Autumn is here, which means soon leaves will begin falling and people will begin raking them. Unfortunately, this activity can be very hard on the lower back, and can often re-aggravate old back injuries or cause new ones. The repetitive motion involving the arms, shoulders, and back that people use while raking can cause a lot of damage to their spine.
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When you are going to rake the leaves in your yard, keep these tips in mind:
- Stretch before you rake! The stretches should focus on the muscles used most while raking, which include the lower back, arms and shoulders. The following stretches are some good examples:
- Bent Knee With Ankle in Hand Stretch – While holding on to something for support, lift one foot up and back behind your rear end and hold it there with one hand. This stretches the front thigh of the bent leg. Hold for 10 deep breaths and repeat for the other leg.
- Counter-Top Stretch – Place your hands on a tabletop or counter, then walk backwards while keeping your hands in place, bending your hips and reaching out until your body makes an L shape. This will stress your back and entire torso. Hold the stretch for 10 deep breaths.
- Heel Up Stretch – First hold on to something for support. Then lift your leg and place your heel on a chair while keeping the leg straight, tighten your thigh and pull your toes towards your body. Don’t bend at all, and remain standing tall for 10 deep breaths. This stretches the back of the leg.
- Always keep your back straight! Avoid twisting at the waist.
- Avoid making long sweeps with the rake. Keep the strokes short to reduce the amount of reaching, stretching and twisting that is done while raking.
- Move your feet! When you stay in one spot it means you have to reach and bend more, which is hard on the lower back.
- Remember to take breaks often! Pause every 15 minutes or so to stretch your muscles. Don’t be in a hurry to finish. You can even split the job up over several days if possible.
The Illinois Back Institute is dedicated to educating people, because we know that the more that you understand about your problem, the more likely you are to eliminate it!
If you are suffering from lower back pain or any other type of back pain or sciatica, we can help! You can schedule a Free Consultation by calling 844-408-0462, or by filling out the form on this page!