Plan to Rake without the Ache
Steve P. Richtaritsch, RMT
KW Health Connection
The cool weather is moving in, and with it comes yard and garden clean-up. If you’re not an active person, yard care can put a lot of stress on your back. Bending, twisting, lifting, hauling — these are all activities that are tough on the body. So, how can you clean up your yard and avoid injury? Check out our helpful tips below.
Before you start, make sure that you walk around the yard or do some very simple stretching. Gently rotate your back and neck as you go. Do windmills with your arms to loosen up your shoulders, starting slowly with small circles working towards larger circles. 5 minutes should do the trick.
Wear Proper Clothing and Footwear
Wear comfortable and slip-resistant shoes. Wet leaves can be very slippery. Also wear gloves to avoid getting blisters on your hands. Keeping your body warm will keep your muscles in good working order as well.
Use an Ergonomic Rake
Try to use a rake that is a good length and weight for you. There are many new ergonomic models that work amazingly well while minimizing stress to the body.
Watch How You Rake
It’s best not to reach too far when you’re raking. Your elbows should be bent and close to your body, knees bent, and your back straight. Use your legs to shift your weight back and forth as you rake. Avoid twisting your body while raking. Take your time, the leaves aren’t going anywhere.
Switch Hands and Tasks
To avoid “repetitive stress” and overtaxing one side of your body, be sure to switch hands and use both sides of your body. Another way to avoid one type of repetitive action is to vary your garden tasks. Rake a little bit, then scoop up the leaves, then rake a little more, and so on.
Keep the Loads Manageable
Don’t lift loads that are too heavy for you. Sometimes we try and cut the time it takes doing the task by doing it much too fast. Make sure that your leaf piles are not too heavy for you to lift.
You don’t need to do all your yard work at one time. Pace yourself. Raking is an aerobic activity. Also take breaks for snacks and meals, and make sure you’re drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated. Sun protection is also a good idea on clear days.
Ask for Help
Depending on how big your yard is, asking a family member, a friend, or even the neighbours, is never a bad idea. The more help, the faster the job can get done. People are always willing to help if you just ask.
If you find yourself sore and in pain after doing all the Fall chores, gives us a call at the clinic and we would be more than willing to help you out. (We don’t rake leaves though, in case you’re thinking about it)