Autumn is here and it’s time to start raking the leaves and it can be fun activity for you and your family. Unfortunately, this activity can be hard on the low back, and it’s often when people injure themselves or re-aggravate their old low back injuries. The repetitive motion with your arms, shoulders, and back can do a lot of damage to your spine.
Raking tips to avoid back pain.
- Stretch before you rake! Especially focus on stretching the muscles that support the low back and any muscle involved in the actual raking like your arms and shoulders. Here are some stretches that are good to do before raking:
Counter-Top Stretch - Place your hands on your counter and walk backwards until your body makes an L-shape. Bend at your hips and reaching out. You should feel this stretch in your back and throughout your trunk. Hold this position for 10 long deep breaths.
- Heel Up Stretch – Hold on for support while you straighten your leg out and place your heel up on a chair, tighten your thigh, and pull your toes towards your body. You should feel the stretch in the back of your leg. Don’t bend forward. Stand tall, keep both legs active and hold this for 10 deep breaths.
- Bent Knee With Ankle in Hand Stretch – Hold onto something for support as you grab one foot with one hand behind your rear end and hold it as you bend that leg. You should feel the stretch in the front thigh of the bent leg and hold again for 10 deep breaths.
- Keep your back straight! Avoid twisting at the waist.
Avoid taking long sweeps or strokes. Keep them short to reduce reaching, twisting and stretching.
- Move your feet. Staying in one spot requires reaching, bending and straightening at the waist to reach the leaves. These actions are hard on the back.
- Take frequent breaks! Take them every ten or fifteen minutes to stretch and straighten out your back.
If you have a large lawn don’t do all of it at once. Divide the job up over several days.
What is the best rake to purchase for my back pain?
There are certain qualities to keep your eye out for when you are purchasing a rake. Use a rake made of light material. Many rakes have very heavy ends, which increases the amount of twisting and movement when swinging them. You also want to buy a rake with a smooth handle, like a rubber handle. The rubber handles don’t blister as much as others.
Avoid back pain with lifting and dumping the leaves.
There is a lot of bending and lifting when it comes to bagging the leaves. Try to avoid raking after rain. Wet leaves are a lot heavier and can increase your chances of injury. Do the following while lifting.
- Squat rather than bend
- Keep you back straight!
- Rise using your leg muscles.
- Keep the bag of leaves close to your body.
- Turn your whole body rather than twisting at the waist.