Fall has officially arrived which means there is lawn work to be done! The first thing people usually do is rake leaves. This activity although it can be fun for your kids, can be physically taxing on you if done improperly or hastily. Raking leaves can lead to serious low back pain and is very common this time of the year.
Improper raking posture. Don’t lean with your back.
Raking leaves typically involve twisting, reaching, pulling, bending, and lifting repetitively and with weight. The outcome of an improper technique can include sore and stiff muscles, limited range of motion, and worse a herniated disc.
To prevent any injuries follow these simple rules for raking leaves:
It’s always easier to turn towards where you want to go than throwing anything over your head.
1) DON’T twist your back. If you pick up the pile of leaves avoid throwing it over your shoulder or around your side as this can cause great strain to your lower back.
Proper lifting posture. Using your legs to help lift heavier than bending with your back.
2) USE your legs. Remember, when lifting any weight to use your legs and bend your knees! Your legs should be carrying the burden, don’t let your back suffer.
Definitely don’t try and pick it up all at once. Smaller piles are always easier.
3) DON’T try to do it all at once. Lifting too heavy pile and working too fast can lead to back injuries. If needed take about 10 minutes to gently stretch the back and hips prior to raking. Otherwise, take time to enjoy the outdoors and not overstrain yourself.
4) WATCH your posture. Like any exercise, proper form is important. The correct posture to maintain while raking is to keep your legs slightly bent; your body weight centered, and reach with your arms and not your back.
Use a blanket or a tarp to help pull that pile from one spot to another.
5) USE a tarp. Leaves are lightweight and can easily be moved on a tarp. Doing this can save your back from constantly bending over to pick up the pile of leaves and in turn preventing a back injury.
Use your arms to help pull instead of your back.
What else can you do if you have followed these tips and you still end up with low back pain after raking leaves?
• Use an ice pack for 20 minutes morning and night for an acute injury.
• Exercise, stretching techniques, or physical therapy to repair the injured muscle
• Propping pillows under the knees when resting in bed to take the pressure off your low back
If you are still experiencing low back pain after doing everything above, CONTACT US at New Age Physio to set up a complimentary consultation. We are here to help!