Helpful Tips to Prevent Back Pain when Raking
It may seem like a simple outdoor chore, but raking improperly could cause upper or lower back strain, and neck and shoulder pain. If not properly warmed up, muscles can be injured by the twisting, turning, bending and reaching required while raking.
"Like any athletic endeavor, raking can cause injury if you don't warm up or use improper body mechanics," says Ryne DeVries, DC, an assistant professor and faculty clinician at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, Minn. "While few people consider raking to be a hobby, it is an inevitable part of home ownership. When you're raking, your legs, buttocks, stomach, arms, shoulders, neck, and back all get a workout. Like any exercise, raking requires stretching as a warm-up and the use of proper form."
Dr. DeVries offers these simple tips to keep your body healthy as you clean up the yard this fall:
- Before picking up the rake, do stretching exercises to warm up muscles. Follow up the activity with further stretching. Recommended stretches include side bends with your hands above your head and fingers locked, knee-to-chest pulls, and trunk rotations;
- Before beginning, take a short walk to stimulate circulation;
- Try to remain in an upright posture while raking;
- Bend at the knees, not the 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;
- Use ergonomic tools that are engineered to encourage proper body mechanics; and