The leaves are changing color, and many people will soon be raking them up. At Chiro Care LA in Glendale, we hope each of our patients will soon be moving comfortably and be able to get outdoor exercise. But people who have suffered musculoskeletal injuries are vulnerable to relapse, and it’s especially important for them to follow safety protocols. We can help our individual patients determine what amount of yard work is safe for them, but we thought it would be helpful to pass along some general guidance on how to rake leaves with less risk.
The first part of avoiding an injury while raking is to get the right rake. You will need one that is lightweight, but that has a long enough handle for you to use without stooping over. The second part is picking the right time. If you rake leaves when they are damp, they will be much heavier and you will be more likely to overstuff the bag. If you rake when the leaves are dry, you’ll probably also feel more comfortable in breathable clothing. Your clothes should be form-fitting and you should tie up your hair and remove anything else that could get caught. Before you start raking you will also benefit from a five-minute warmup. Like every warmup, this should include stretches that keep you in motion, not ones that are static.
As you rake, remember to switch which hand is higher on the handle about every five minutes. Chiropractors recommend standing in a scissor position, with one foot forward and one back, and raking into a pile at your side. When you bag the leaves, either lower yourself into a squat or bend at the hips; do not bend with your lower back. You’ll need to periodically test whether you can still easily move the leaf bag, or else you may fill it with more weight than you can lift. Remember to avoid twisting your torso as you carry heavy objects, and when you’re done, do cooldown stretches. If you are in pain, stop raking and we will help you determine when you can safely resume.
Dr. Jack Alajajian and his staff operate ChiroCareLA.com at 815 E Colorado Suite 250, Glendale CA, 91205. Call 818-246-3600.