Tips for raking leaves
Updated: Oct 22, 2020
It’s that time of year again where the trees put on their show and the leaves turn into gorgeous autumn colours. Unfortunately, when the show is over the leaves need to be raked up and tidied away.
Although raking leaves seems like easy work, it’s not as easy as it looks – especially when the leaves are wet and heavy, with many people experiencing back, knee and wrist pains as a result.
Here are some tips to help you stay injury free when raking the leaves away:
1. Wear gloves – blisters are a pain and can be easily prevented with the use of gloves.
2. Use the correct rake – make sure the rake is a comfortable height and weight for you.
3. Wear good footwear - slipping or being unstable significantly increase the chances of falls and sprains and strains.
4. Gently warm-up and stretch. Not the first to come to mind when raking leaves, but it can be strenuous exercise. Standing in plenty of space, place the rake across your back and gently twist to the side until a gentle stretch is felt. Hold this position for 15 seconds then perform the other way. Repeat this 5 times in each direction. Then start raking gently while you continue to warm-up.
5. Avoid twisting when raking – twisting leads to greater pressure and risk of injury to the back, knees and ankles. Always try to rake in a straight line and maintain a straight back.
6. Move your feet – if we keep our feet still we reach and bend over further to reach the leaves, so keep your feet moving to take the pressure off your back.
7. Keep changing your position - chances are you’ve not raked leaves since last fall, so our bodies are not used to the action. To help prevent muscle fatigue and soreness keep changing your position and action – for instance, do a few minutes of raking, a few minutes of putting the leaves into a bag, then a few minutes standing up straight having a break.
8. Stay hydrated – dehydration increases muscle fatigue and the chances of muscle spasms, so keep drinking throughout your task.
9. Take your time. It’s better to separate the work out and avoid aches and pains, than to do it all together and end up with a bad back!
10. Do some gentle stretches afterwards: lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the bed, gently roll your knees side to side to gently stretch the lower back and repeat the other way. Don’t go far and repeat for 2/3 minutes. A warm bath or shower will help relax the muscle too should you feel stiff.
If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment with an experienced physiotherapist, just get in touch!