A message from The Center for Physical Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine at The Chester County Hospital.
It is that time of year again... Although the kids enjoy jumping in the piles, you are faced with the sometimes daunting task of raking all of those leaves. Because raking requires different body positions and utilizes several muscle groups, the potential for injury is high. In fact, it is estimated that over 76,000 people seek care for injuries related to non-powered garden tools (including rakes) every year. By following a few simple recommendations, hopefully you can avoid being one of these people.
- Warm-up and stretch for a few minutes before beginning to rake. Example stretches include:
a. Trunk rotation stretch
b. Shoulder stretches
c. Wrist stretches
- Make sure the yard is clear of debris to avoid trip hazards.
- Use a rake that is sized appropriately to your height and strength. Avoid blisters by wearing gloves.
- Wear skid-resistant shoes to minimize risks for slipping or falling.
- Avoid twisting your body. Move your legs to shift your weight. Do not throw leaves over your shoulder or to the side; rake the leaves towards you. This will help to avoid excessive strain on your back muscles.
- Do not bend over to pick up leaves or bags. Keep your back straight and bend at the knees to pick things up. Make sure the leaf bag is not too heavy to be able to pick up comfortably.
- Raking is considered an aerobic activity. Pace yourself, take frequent breaks, and stay hydrated. If you experience chest pain or shortness of breath, call 911.
- Cool down and stretch afterwards to relieve tension.
By following these simple recommendations, your raking experience can be a pain free, if not enjoyable one.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
Last Updated: 11/18/2010