Fall is a favorite season for many people, with apple cider, pumpkins and the beautiful leaves changing color. Unfortunately, along with the beauty comes the need to rake and clean up the yard for winter. Here are a few quick tips to keep you healthy and pain-free this fall:

  • Make sure to warm up properly before you work outside. Raking leaves is a workout, requiring a proper warm up and stretching, just like any other exercise.
  • Use proper raking technique. Raking incorporates reaching, twisting, and lifting which can put stress on your body if not done correctly. Keep your core tight, legs staggered, back straight, and use your legs to shift your weight instead of your back. Avoid twisting while raking as much as possible. When raking, keeping the rake close to your body will allow you to have more control and decrease your risk for low back strain.
  • Choose the right rake. While at the store, make sure to select a rake that is the right height for you. If the rake is too short, you will end up leaning forward. Also select a rake that is not too heavy. A heavy rake will cause increased pain and strain through your neck and arms.  Look for an ergonomic rake that can take some of the pressure off of your shoulders and low back if you have had previous injuries.
  • Take rest breaks. Like all other exercise, listen to your body, hydrate with water, and take frequent breaks. The leaves don’t all fall in one day, they don’t need to be raked in one day either.
  • Rake small areas at a time. You will rake more efficiently if you rake small areas at a time.  You can get more leaves per sweep if you sweep in small motions close to your body. Use a tarp to rake the leaves onto and drag the pile to where it needs to go.  Do not lift and or carry bags over your shoulder.
  • Rake smarter not harder. Watch the wind, making sure to rake with the wind so the leaves are not blown back and need to be re-raked. Also try to not rake wet leaves, as they are heavier and take more energy to move.

For more tips or strategies for safe recreation, visit one of our qualified therapists.

Physical Therapist at Freedom Physical Therapy Services
Molly Rittberg received her master’s degree in Physical Therapy in 2007 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and went on to receive her doctorate from Rosalind Franklin University (North Chicago) in 2009. She has since worked in an outpatient orthopedic practice where she worked with patients of all ages, injuries and disabilities. She has a wide variety of experiences including knee, ankle, foot and shoulder injuries, post-operative conditions, spinal rehabilitation and peripheral neuropathies.