Take Care When Raking Leaves

Raking and disposing of leaves is more than a chore. It can be a very demanding exercise. Although exercise is good for you, this workout can be full of repetitive motions.

While it may seem simple, it can be physically stressful, even for healthy people. And if you have a history of problems related to the heart, lungs, bones, joints, or spine, seek advice from a healthcare provider before you start.

All the bending, reaching, twisting, lifting, and carrying can easily lead to pain due to a pulled or torn muscle. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), muscle strains can occur to your shoulders, arms, and neck —especially if you don't regularly exercise these areas. AAOS recommends to warm-up your muscles by stretching for 10 minutes or longer before raking leaves.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, if your have outdoor allergies, don't rake leaves or mow lawns. Always consult with your healthcare provider if you have any health questions about raking leaves.

Most raking injuries are related to poor technique and overuse of a muscle. Most injuries can be prevented. But if you must do it yourself, AAOS recommends the following steps:

  • Wear gloves.

  • Wear sturdy, slip-resistant shoes.

  • Your rake should be the correct height (not too short) and not too heavy.

  • Stand up straight (back straight) as you rake. Use short strokes, instead of long ones.

  • Bend from your knees and squat. Don't bend at the waist to lift heavy items, such as leaves, bags, or equipment.

  • Switch your arm and leg positions, trading sides every few minutes.

  • Be careful on slippery, wet leaves.

  • Lift only as much as you can comfortably carry.

  • Don’t wrench or twist too severely.

  • Take your time.

  • Break your work into short segments with breaks between.

  • Cool down when you’re done by stretching for 10 minutes.

And be sure that the rake you choose is in good repair and can be used comfortably and efficiently.

Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2019
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