Here are twelve raking leaves safety tips I encourage my patients to follow — especially those with osteoporosis, osteopenia, or low back pain.
- You should face your leaves while you rake.
- Make a point of knowing where you are and what is around you so that you can walk backwards safely without tripping and falling.
- Always rake the leaves towards you.
- Keep your upper arms close to your body.
- Pull the rake using movement from your legs (not just your arms) and step back as you rake.
- Halfway through your job you should shift your raking activity to your other side. In other words, if you start raking from your left side then you should shift the raking effort to the right side as you cross the halfway mark of your job. This distributes the workload across your body avoiding fatigue or strain on one side of your body.
- Avoid movements that involve flexion of the spine and adjust (or avoid) movements that involve extreme rotation.
- Rotation of the body, while raking, can aggravate the back or bring on low back pain. I suggest you avoid this movement while raking.
- Reaching out to rake leaves and extending your body should places more stress on your spine. Instead, move closer to the leaves.
- In the video you will see that I am using a rake with a wide fan. You will also notice that I have a lot of leaves to gather and hence the need for the large fan. The challenge for many people who use large fans is that it requires a fair amount of strength.
- If you do not regularly include strength training in your exercise program you would be safer to use a rake with a smaller fan.
- You should rake when the leaves are dry (and light) and not when they are wet and heavy.
Benefits of Raking Leaves Safety Tips
Follow these twelve raking leaves safety tips and you will:
- Reduce your risk of a compression fracture.
- Avoid aggravating your back or neck pain raking your garden.
Raking Leaves Safety Tips Video Demonstration
- Facing your leaves is probably the least likely thing you’ll see people do, but it is the safest thing.
- As long as you know where you’re going to be walking backwards, then raking towards you is a really good idea.
- Keep your upper arms close to you and pulling the rake, more with your legs, so you’re stepping back as you rake.
- Halfway through your job, shift your shoulder. You’ll often see people raking across in a rotational pattern. Meaning that you’re raking, and you’re reaching out to the side and pulling it across. The rotation, over half an hour or even ten minutes, can be really hard on your back if you’re not used to it.
- The other common mistake I see people make is they decide they don’t really want to move their feet, and they’re going to reach out. As soon as your upper arms leave your side, you know that you haven’t stepped into the leaves. I encourage you to sort of track the leaves and stay close to it, so step into your leaves as opposed to reaching, which can be pretty tough on your back after a while. So, keep them close, pull them towards you.
- Two more little things I want to say on raking. You probably notice I have a really big rake. That’s because I have a lot of leaves to cover. The bigger fan works OK if you have been strength training a little bit, because each scoop is going to be a little bit heavier.
- It also works much better when the leaves are dry, so try to choose a day in which the leaves are dryer, as opposed to wetter.
- If you have not been strength training regularly, then I really encourage you to go with the smaller fan base.
Activities of Daily Living
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