Avoid Back Pain When Raking
By Sara Butler
Fall will be here before you know it, and while many people enjoy its cool weather and tasty food offerings (welcome back pumpkin spice!), one thing many people don’t enjoy about fall is raking leaves. Raking leaves can be a real pain in the back, so before you pick up a rake this season, you need to familiarize yourself with proper raking technique so you don’t end up seeing your chiropractor for an injury!
The Right Tools
The rake your neighbor swears by as the best may not be the best rake for you. You need to find a rake that is a good fit for your height, with thick handles to help reduce hand fatigue. It’s also important to remember that you get what you pay for, so for the sake of your back, you may not want to go with the cheapest option.
The weight of the rake is also an important factor. While it may seem like a good idea to go for a rake that is light, a lighter rake will actually require you to expend more energy when you use it. The best option is to find a rake that has a good grip and a good weight behind it. You can also find a variety of ergonomic rakes on the market that are specially made to help reduce injury and increase comfort.
When you lift anything, even just a bag full of lightweight leaves, you need to remember proper lifting posture. Always utilize the power of your legs and hips when lifting, never your back. Don’t lift something too heavy for you; also, hold what you’re lifting as close to your body as you can. These tips can help to keep you from hurting yourself!
Raking is a form of exercise and should be treated as such. Before you begin, do a light warmup where you get in some light stretching of the muscles in your legs, back, neck, and shoulders. Throw in a couple of knee-to-chest lifts and side bends and you should be good to go!
Here’s a raking wake-up call: You’ve probably been doing it wrong! Proper raking posture requires you to stay standing straight up as you rake the leaves to the side of you. Switch which side you rake on from time to time and always bend at your knees, never your waist. Also, avoid twisting. You should try to pivot with your feet to turn your whole body instead of twisting.
These tips should get you off to a great start, but always remember: Ask your chiropractor if you have other questions about keeping your back healthy when you’re working outside!