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7 Tips to Avoid Back Pain After Raking Leaves

It may still be warm here in upstate New York but it’s fall. And, with fall, comes leaves. Lots and lots of leaves. If you plan on getting out there to clean up the yard remember these tips to avoid back pain after raking leaves.

tips to avoid back pain after raking leaves - albany ny

Ways to Avoid Back Pain After Raking Leaves

#1 Stretch Before Raking Leaves

In our article about preventing back pain while¬†gardening, we talked about the importance of stretching your muscles prior to doing yard work. This principle also applies to raking leaves. Many of us have very sedentary lives lately so the twisting, turning, stretching and pulling on our spine when we rake leaves can cause pain and injury if we don’t warm our muscles up first.

#2 Choose the Right Tools

Tools to avoid back pain when raking leaves in upstate ny

Source: BobVila.com4

As with any job, using the proper tool helps make the job easier and prevents injury! For leaf raking, a plastic rake is the best tool for the job. It’s much lighter and easier to maneuver than a metal rake1.

You should also make sure the rake is an appropriate size. Using too short of a rake will require you to bend over and put unnecessary strain on your spine.

There are a lot of new tools available to help make your leaf raking more efficient. For example, the leaf scoops shown here help you grab a large bunch of leaves at once and reduce the number of times you have to bend over.

#3 Use Good Posture and Avoid Twisting

Again, this advice applies to many activities, but using good posture is important for preventing strained or pulled muscles. Good raking posture is to keep your knees slightly bent and your weight centered. Also, when starting the raking motion reach with your arms, not your back2.

Also, as you rake leaves around you remember to move your feet rather than twisting your body. This constant twisting will stress your

#4 Lift Leaves with your Legs

If you’re bagging leaves remember to always bend at the knees and lift with your legs, not your back3.

#5 Wear Good Shoes

A few weeks ago we ran a series of articles on shoes and your back. The proper shoes for you are the ones that offer you support and are matched to your foot’s anatomy. However, when you’re raking leaves you may also want to consider the soles of the shoes. Slipping on wet leaves can cause you to strain your back muscles and/or parts of your spine. Make sure the shoes you’re wearing have good traction so you avoid slipping2.

#6 Rake Smarter, Not Harder

Choosing the right day for your yard work can help you in the long run. It’s not always possible but if you can, choose a day that’s not too windy. Struggling to keep the leaves together on a windy day makes more work for you…and your back.

#7 Don’t Bag your Leaves if It’s not Necessary

The motion of picking up leaves and placing them in yard bags can put strain on your back and spine. Also, chances are you’ll be doing this motion over and over again. Repetitive motions such as these can lead to stress on your spine’s anatomy and injury.

Check if your town offers curbside leaf pickup. Raking leaves onto a tarp and pulling them to the edge of the road is a lot easier than bagging them.

 

Fall is beautiful here in New York’s capital region. Enjoy the foliage, go pick apples and carve a pumpkin with the kids. But none of these activities are much fun when you’re suffering from back pain. ¬†Follow these tips and you will hopefully avoid back pain after raking leaves.

References:

  1. Back Clinics of Canada
  2. Fast Fitness
  3. Go To Physio
  4. Bob Vila
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery