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8 Ways to Avoid Back Pain While Raking This Fall
Raking leaves may seem like a simple outdoor chore, but can result in unnecessary aches and pains. Raking can place a large strain on your mid and low back structures, and can cause strained muscles, twisted knees, or even herniated discs. By properly warming up your muscles and being mindful of good body mechanics, many injuries can be avoided.
- Before beginning, take a 5-10 minute walk to stimulate circulation. This helps ensure your muscles have a good supply of oxygen, raises your body temperature to allow maximum flexibility, and minimizes stress on your heart.
- Before picking up the rake, do some stretching exercises to warm up muscles. After you are finished, follow up the activity with further stretching.
- Try to stay in an upright posture while raking – avoid repetitive bending and twisting activity, which both put unnecessary strain on muscles and joints.
- Bend at your knees, not your waist, when picking up piles of leaves.
- Be sure to alternate hand positions to ensure that you are not over-working one side.
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after raking.
- Take periodic breaks. A good rule of thumb is 10-15 minutes for each hour of strenuous activity. If you have a large area to rake, plan to split the task over several days.
- Use ergonomic tools that are engineered to encourage proper body mechanics.
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If activities such as raking bring on pain, our physical therapists can help you figure out ways to continue perform the activity with less pain. This may involve simple changes in your form or some treatment sessions to address underlying issues, allowing us to decrease your pain and improve muscle strength and flexibility. Call your nearest ACCESS PT location to get started!