It’s that time of year again; our days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping, and kids are back in school. Autumn is just around the corner, and as this season progresses, we will have to rake all our fallen leaves to endure a healthy lawn next spring.
Personally, I’ve always enjoyed raking. I love being outside in the crisp, fresh air, and I look at raking like cross-training exercise! However, due to the positions required and its repetitive nature, there is the chance of injury if you are unaware of your postural positioning and/or don’t listen to the signs that your body is fatiguing.
These are the main things to consider to ensure that you are doing this Fall ritual properly:
- Try to avoid excessive lumbar bending and over-reaching with the rake; instead, stand relatively erect (maintaining a normal spinal curvature) and keep your raking radius relatively small ⇒ move your feet instead!
- When picking up the leaves to bag or put in bins, bend with your knees and lift with your legs. Do not lift with your back!
- Keep your elbows tucked into your sides ⇒ this is much safer for your shoulders and prevents excessive recruitment of your rotator cuff.
- Change your hand positioning frequently, as this will help prevent injury and increase your stamina.
- Take frequent rest breaks. I like to casually stroll around my yard while drinking water to re-hydrate and loosen any muscle tension.
Note: if you are suffering from a shoulder impingement or rotator cuff injury, this does not apply to you!!
- If possible ⇒ DELEGATE!! Raking can be very aggravating for these injuries.
- If not, your injured arm should only be used with that hand in the bottom position on the rake ⇒ obviously this will require more frequent rest periods.
- Leaves typically take 4-6 weeks to fall ⇒ pace yourself by starting early in the season and do multiple raking sessions. (this is the best way to help prevent injury)
- If any pain begins = STOP!! Apply some ice for 10-12 mins a few times that day and ask a neighbourhood kid for their help (I’m sure their parents will approve!) Only return to raking the following day if you can do so without any pain.
I hope you picked up a tip or two that will make this raking season pain-free and more enjoyable! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at the clinic we would be more than happy to answer any of your questions.
In good health,
Jason Turnbull, D.O.