Fall has arrived! If you’re a homeowner, there is likely some lawn work that you’re trying to get done – and raking leaves usually tops the list. This is a physically demanding activity that involves twisting, reaching, pulling, bending and lifting repetitively and with weight. If these movements are not done properly, and if underused muscles are being overtaxed in a short period of time, it can lead to sore and stiff muscles, painful shoulders and most commonly it can cause injury to the mid and lower back.
Here are some helpful tips:
Stretch before you rake: Warm up with light exercise before heading out to rake. Take about 10 minutes to gently stretch your neck, shoulders, torso, back, wrists and hips prior to raking. (Our physio’s can provide you with some great stretches to help you with this.)
Use your legs: When you’re bagging the piles of leaves, (which can often be heavy because they are wet) make sure you bend your knees. Keep your back straight and let your legs do the bulk of the work – not your back.
Avoid twisting from the waist: People often plant their feet and over-rotate their spine which can really cause stress and strain to the lower back. Pivot towards your forward foot first, your hips should follow next, then the rest of your body.
Use the right equipment: The rake you use should be the right size for your height and strength. The width of the rake head doesn’t much matter. A light weight, ergonomic rake that has bent or side handles ensures that your elbows are slightly bent and helps with good posture. Light weight plastic leaf rakes are also a good option.
Pace yourself: Section off areas of your yard and complete in stages, especially if it is a large property. Take frequent breaks, and as with any physical activity, drink plenty of water before, during and after lawn work.
If you do experience low back pain or neck pain, our therapists can identify and safely treat your pain, and provide you with strengthening exercise to help your spine and improve your posture.
Contact us to book an appointment.
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