As the weather cools and leaves begin to accumulate, it’s necessary to get out and rake the leaves. This chore is about more than just keeping a tidy lawn. Layers of leaves can attract insects and mold, which can worsen allergy symptoms if you have them.
While raking may seem like an easy task, it is actually an intense physical activity. No matter what your age, it’s important to make sure you are performing this task correctly. To help you avoid injury, here is a list of healthy tips to follow when raking the leaves.
1. Choose the right rake
Is your rake the correct length for your height? The right rake should be about chin high. If it is too tall or too short, this could lead to improper reaching or bending and potential injury.
2. Warm up properly
Before you begin raking, perform various whole body stretches. These stretches can include a basic hamstring stretch, shoulder stretch and hip flexor stretch. For a picture guide on how perform these stretches visit the Mayo Clinic website. You should hold each stretch for about 30 to 60 seconds and stretch for a total of at least five minutes.
After you’re warmed up, start raking at a slow to moderate pace. Don’t try and rake your yard all at once. Divide the work into a series of days.
3. Practice proper raking posture
While raking, keep your back straight and avoid repetitive motions by switching arms and pulling in different directions. This will help ensure that you are working out different parts of your body equally.
4. Practice proper lifting
When moving a pile of leaves or lifting a bag of leaves, bend at your knees not at your waist with feet shoulder-width apart. As you’re lifting, tighten your abs, straighten your knees and keep your back straight. For turning, you should avoid twisting at the waist by moving your feet instead.
5. Take breaks
Every 20 minutes, pause for a few minutes to catch your breath and stay hydrated. You can also use this time to perform stretches to ensure that you are maintaining flexibility throughout raking.
6. Dress properly
Wear proper clothing suitable for the cooler autumn temperatures. To prevent slipping, your shoes should have good grips at the bottom whether they are tennis shoes, hiking shoes or winter boots.
If you have allergies, dust masks can help prevent you from breathing in mold, mildew and other allergens. Work gloves can also help prevent blisters on your hands.
If you’re interested in learning more exercise tips specific to your health, come visit one of our chiropractic interns at the Whole Health Center in Lombard. You can schedule an appointment by calling (630) 629-9664.