With these helpful tips, you can avoid the major aches and pains suffered by scores of yard warriors every autumn.
Jumping in piles of leaves can be fun but raking them up afterward can leave you with an aching back.
More than 76,000 Americans are hurt yearly while raking leaves or using other manual garden tools.
These injuries may occur because raking leaves force people to use several different muscle groups.
But certain precautions can help people doing yard work avoid these injuries.
Corewell Health’s physicians advise taking the following steps:
- Warm-up and cool down. Just like any physical activity, warming up before raking leaves is important. It’s also a good idea to stretch first. Try trunk rotation and shoulder and wrist stretches. Once you’re finished raking, remember to cool down and stretch again to ease muscle tension.
- Clear debris. Be sure to remove sticks or other debris before raking to avoid falling.
- Prevent allergies . If allergic to leaves or grass, take allergy medication. Wear clothes that cover the body along with gloves to avoid contact.
- Watch for bugs. Use bug and tick repellant to avoid bug bites. After raking, check for ticks and take a shower.
- Consider your footwear. Be sure your shoes are skid-resistant, so you don’t slip and fall.
- Avoid twisting motions. Shift your weight with your legs. Don’t throw leaves over your shoulder. Rake towards you, not away from you. This will ease the strain on your back muscles.
- Protect your back. Bend at the knees with your back straight to pick up leaves or bags and avoid bending over. This will ease the pressure on your back. Keep leaf bags light to prevent straining when moving them.
- Take breaks. Raking is an aerobic activity. Remember to take breaks and drink plenty of water.
- Take symptoms seriously. Chest pain or shortness of breath could be a sign of a life-threatening emergency. If you have these symptoms, call 911 right away.