If Raking “Leaves” You in Pain…

Fall is beautiful in North Carolina.  The trees are gorgeous and the air, along with the leaves, is starting to crisp up.  This only means its yard work time!  Time to start raking leaves off the lawn you’ve worked so hard to keep green.  Your body, especially your back, can get a tremendous workout from yard work and raking leaves.  You can actually burn up to 300 calories an hour just by raking leaves!  But the downside to getting that great workout is the soreness and possible injuries that could occur.  In 2008 nearly 28,000 people suffered injuries from raking which required treatment according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

As a Chiropractor I have seen people come in after a weekend raking leaves with subluxations from their neck down due to improperly raking leaves.  With this in mind, there are proper ways to rake leaves that will not leave your back and shoulders in pain.  The following are some tips for posture and stance when having to do that tedious fall job of raking leaves.

1)  Buy an ergonomic rake.  These are available at most home improvement stores.   Using an ergonomic rake, takes pressure off your shoulders and back when raking leaves, allowing your body not to twist and turn as much.

    • When buying a rake also remember to NOT buy a lightweight rake.  The lighter the rake the more strenuous the workout will be for your back and shoulders.  The extra weight of a heavy rake will be easier on your body and back because it will require less energy to move the rake and scoop up the piles of heavy leaves.

2)  Stretch out before you rake.  This may sound silly, but as I said earlier you can burn up to 300 calories raking leaves, you wouldn’t start any other aerobic activity without stretching out first.  Simple stretches can be explained to you by talking with Laura McMurray our Resident Exercise Specialist.

3)  Stand correctly.  Don’t stand in once place when you rake.  Move your feet and legs to properly distribute the weight around your body, not just on your back.

4)  When raking leaves be sure to use small little sweeping motions.  Large sweeps will cause unnecessary strain on your back, causing you to tire more easily.  A noted benefit of small sweeps is that you will tend to rake more leaves this ways.

    • A proper raking procedure is to rake leaves straight back and move with the rake as you walk backwards.
    • Switch hand positions frequently to reduce building up stress on one side of your arm and body.

5)  Hydrate!  Be sure to drink enough water to make sure you don’t get dehydrated.  This will help with muscle recovery, keeping you from getting too sore after a long day of yard work.

6)  Plan accordingly.  If you know you are going to be spending time in the yard, doing work, schedule a few more chiropractic adjustments PRIOR to your workout.  This will ensure your spine is ready and able to take the strains of work.

    • If you are not a patient, schedule a screening to make sure you don’t have existing subluxations that may cause you more injury if doing yard work.

7)  Rest, Rest some more and give your body time to recover.  The best way to do this is to schedule a chiropractic checkup after you are done.  This will correct any subluxations that might have occurred.

Understanding the proper way to rake leaves will reduce the pain and soreness that may come with yard work a day or two later.  But to be sure you have not caused any long term pain; scheduling chiropractic checkup will ensure subluxations did not occur.  You may not even realize you were subluxated until later.  Ease your pain and suffering now by getting adjusted after yard work.  Continue to live your life well…adjusted!



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