Rake Without The Strain

Fall is here, bringing glorious weather and cooler temperatures for us to enjoy. The price some of us pay, however, is the backbreaking work of raking, bagging, and blowing away a carpet of autumn leaves. While raking is an excellent, moderate form of exercise, more than 28,000 people are medically treated each year for back, neck, and shoulder injuries directly related to disposing of leaves.

To avoid injuries to your back, neck, shoulders, and wrists, here are some ways to bid farewell to the foliage without straining yourself:

• Choose a rake that suits your height. Avoid choosing one that may be too short, too long, or too heavy, as this could cause you to twist the wrong way or reach too far, causing back pain or a pulled muscle.

• Switch sides often when raking. This will prevent you from putting repetitive stress on one side of the body. Simply move the rake from side to side as you go, leading with a different arm for a few minutes at a time.

• Use your legs, not your back. Bend at the knees instead of the waist when picking up leaves. Also don’t reach too far with the rake; stay in a normal, upright position and use shorter raking strokes instead of long, reaching ones. You’ll be moving your legs a bit more to get to the leaves, but you’ll be saving your arms and back.

• Fall weather is usually cool and pleasant to work in, but don’t let that keep you from taking breaks. You still need to take time out to stretch and have a drink of water every now and then.

While raking leaves is a bit of a chore, it’s also an opportunity to enjoy the spectacular fall weather and get some exercise at the same time. By using your head to save your back, you’ll stay in great condition through the season!

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