October is here, and as the temperatures begin to fall, so do those pesky leaves. Raking is a necessary part of the fall cleanup, and while it is a great way to get some exercise, if not done properly it can lead to various injuries. Dr. John Turchetta, Physiatrist (medical specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation) at NEBH recommends keeping the following tips in mind as you begin your fall lawn cleanup.
- Before you begin, make sure to warm up and stretch your muscles.
- Raking an entire yard can seem like a daunting task. Start slowly and take regular breaks.
- Keep a straight back and turn your whole body while you rake to avoid twisting your back. Additionally, alternate hand positions and the direction you pull with the rake to minimize strain on one side of the body.
- Consider changing tasks frequently to decrease overuse injuries. Giving body parts even brief rests can go a long way in avoiding a more serious overuse injury.
- Make sure to lift heavy bags of leaves properly. To do this: Separate your feet so they are shoulder width apart. Bend at the knees, tighten your stomach muscles and lift with your leg muscles, not your back, as you stand up.
- Use a rake that is the proper height and weight for your body. Rakes that are too short can cause strain on your back, and rakes that are too heavy can put added stress on your neck and shoulders.
- Wear gloves to help protect against blisters, and don’t forget to wear supportive shoes that fit correctly and have nonskid soles.
If you have any type of persistent pain, make sure to consult an orthopedic expert.