Fall is here, and that means a number of major seasonal changes, one of the most enjoyable of which is the turning of the leaves to a bright array of reds, oranges and yellows. While the aesthetic value of watching these changes occur is undeniable to most, the downside is these leaves eventually fall to the ground. Unfortunately, that means someone has to take on the sometimes-daunting task of raking them up.
For most homeowners with a yard, raking leaves is a necessary and unavoidable part of autumn. Depending on the size of your yard, raking can be a time-consuming task. It’s estimated that Americans spend about 70 hours per year doing lawn care tasks on average. The physical nature of raking can also lead to back pain and other injuries. Fortunately, physical therapists can help you learn how to avoid back pain and other issues that raking could cause.
These tips can help you avoid back pain and other issues while raking
Raking involves lots of twisting, reaching, pulling, bending, and lifting repeatedly and with weight. Even for those of you who are in good shape and stay active regularly, this can be a challenging pursuit that utilizes muscles in the arms, shoulders and back.
For instance, the muscles in these areas may be underused, and therefore, they can also be more prone to injury. Without proper preparation or by performing movements incorrectly on a repeated basis, injuries can occur. Lower back pain is the most common issue that can result, but raking-induced injuries can affect the shoulders, neck and arms as well.
Since it’s a form of physical activity, raking should be treated just like any other form of exercise. Taking a few precautions and making sure you’re using the right techniques can help you avoid most raking injuries. Physical therapists recommend these tips to help you avoid back pain and other injuries while raking this fall:
Make sure you’re using the proper size and type of rake that you can move effectively; wear gloves and shoes with skid-resistant soles.
Before beginning, warm up for 10 minutes with some brisk walking and stretching of the shoulders, wrists, hips, neck and back.
Work at a comfortable pace and divide the job into segments. Take breaks every 15 to 20 minutes or so.
Avoid twisting your body, planting your feet or using your back; instead, use your arms and legs, stand upright and shift your weight appropriately.
Try to vary your movements as much as possible to avoid overuse of specific muscle groups.
Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after to prevent dehydration.
Don’t overfill bags of leaves and when picking them up, bend at the knees, without using your back; drag bags or use a wheelbarrow if they’re too big.
After you’re finished, cool down and stretch out again, especially your back.
Weren’t able to avoid back pain or other raking injuries? Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation can help!
Experiencing back pain or other issues after raking? Our team at Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation is ready and willing to help you get the care you need. We offer free screenings intended to pinpoint the source of your injury or pain. Our physical therapists also excel at building personalized therapy plans designed to reduce pain and help you avoid lower back pain and other injuries in the future.
Some of the physical therapy techniques that could be in your plan include:
Contact our team today for more information about the high-quality physical therapy services we offer or to schedule an initial appointment.