Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
The end of summer is right around the corner, and soon the trees will be changing colors and depositing leaves all over your yard. If you’re fortunate to have some picturesque trees in your yard, it also means you have task of regularly raking those leaves during the fall. Similar to our article on protecting your spine while gardening, you should also take some steps to protect your spine while raking leaves this fall. Today, we share five tips for avoiding spine pain while raking leaves.
Although you may not consider raking as physically demanding as other exercises like jogging or cycling, it’s important to remember that you should always stretch before exerting yourself. Take 3-5 minutes before picking up a rake to stretch out your whole body. Start with your head and neck, progress through your shoulders and spine and finish by stretching your lower body. Stretching gets the blood flowing and the muscles ready for activity, which are essential to avoiding a spine injury.
Stand Up Straight
Another problem a lot of people have when they rake leaves is that they have poor posture. People unknowingly slouch or hunch over to rake, and this puts a lot of stress on their spine. People often slouch because their rake is small or flimsy, so make sure you invest in a long and sturdy rake that can be easily operated while standing up. If you have to bend, just like when moving boxes, bend with the knees and not with your waist.
Move Your Feet
Sometimes you have to twist and torque your back in order to reach all the leaves, but if you want to avoid overstressing your spine, you’ll try to shuffle your feet in order to face the leaves you’re raking. If you are twisting and turning to get leaves on your side or behind you, you’ll be putting extra pressure on your spine. Move your feet and keep them pointed towards the leaves you are raking.
Grab a Friend
If your yard is especially large, or if you have a great deal of leaves on your yard, don’t be afraid to ask family members, friends or neighbors for a little help. Offer to grill some burgers or to do them a favor in the future if you know raking your lawn is going to be too much for your spine. If you can’t find help on a certain day, don’t try to bite off more than you can chew. Work for 15 minutes and then take a break, or just do the front yard and then do the back another day. There’s also a chance that there are services in your area that will rake your lawn for a fee, or you can contact churches or schools in the area to see if any kids are looking for volunteer hours.
Invest in Riding Equipment
If you have a riding lawnmower, there are attachments you can buy to turn your lawn mower into a leaf collector. If you don’t have a riding lawn mower, you can invest in a leaf collector or a heavy duty leaf blower that can move the leaves without the physical activity of raking. There are a number of different ways you can clear your lawn with actually raking them, so if your spine has seen better days, consider an option that doesn’t involve picking up a rake.