Raking leaves doesn’t have to be associated with physical therapy in Edison

Settling into fall may mean watching the temperatures drop, but—for those fortunate to live in the midst of deciduous trees—it also means watching the leaves change colors into a dazzling array of reds, oranges and yellows. After changing colors, though, the leaves also must drop, and for those of you with a yard, their falling presents the task of eventually raking them up. Save yourself the trouble and don’t let the process of raking these leaves be associated with physical therapy in Edison this fall.

Last year around this time we discussed how raking leaves can pose an injury risk in one of our blogs, and we thought we’d take this opportunity to remind you of the dangers associated with raking and how to prevent any injuries from occurring.

Raking leaves gives us a great chance to get in some outdoor exercise while also taking in all the colors and beauty that come with autumn. Unfortunately, it’s a common mistake to underestimate just how much strain is put on the body while raking, and this is why many people go into it without thinking twice.

Like any other physical activity, if you jump into raking leaves without warming up or knowing how to perform it properly and safely, the chances of injury are much greater. The twisting, bending, lifting and reaching that are required during the entire process of raking utilizes several different muscle groups, and if you haven’t exercised your shoulders, neck or arm muscles sufficiently in a while, they may not be used to the exertion that will be placed on them while raking.

Failure to use proper raking techniques or overexerting yourself without enough breaks can lead to an injury that may prevent you from completing your job. Back injuries—especially strains to the lower or upper back—are most common, but neck strains, shoulder pain and wrist pain may also occur when certain conditions are met.

In addition to the tips provided in our last blog on raking safety, here are some other helpful tips to keep in mind while you rake this fall to avoid injury:

  • Use short strokes throughout the day to cut down the risk of overexertion injuries
  • If you can, opt for a rake that’s ergonomically designed with padded handles; make sure the rake is proper height and weight: if it’s too short you could strain your back; if it’s too heavy it will put added force on your neck and shoulders
  • Use a “scissors” stance: put your right foot forward and left foot back for a few minutes, then reverse it with your left foot forward and right foot back
  • If it’s windy, use the wind as an assist by raking in the same direction as it
  • Use a tarp to move leaves to your desired location, which will save your back from constant bending over to pick up the leaves
  • If your yard is too big or you’re already experiencing back pain or other issues, consider using a leaf blower to blow leaves into a pile or onto a tarp
  • If you still feel the task of raking leaves is too much to handle, commission the help of a family member, friend or neighbor to help you out or do it for you

If you do experience low back pain, visit us at Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation for physical therapy in Edison, Woodbridge, Somerville or Union, NJ, where we can identify the source of the problem and get you on a program to reduce pain and improve function. Call 908-393-9877 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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