By Dr. Jessica Fitzpatrick, DC
The Right Fit – Using a rake that fits your size properly will decrease the risk of injury, particularly to the back. The rake should be chin height and should not be heavier than you are comfortable moving. Wide, plastic rakes are both lighter and generally make the task a little quicker.
Posture – Keeping an awareness of posture helps prevent putting too much stress on both the neck and lower back. Try to keep your head and chin back as much as possible and switch sides of holding the rake as often as you can. When picking up piles of leaves remember to bend from the legs and avoid twisting. Bring your bag/bin close to the pile and lift it directly in front of you.
Proper Gear – Proper footwear that is both comfortable and has good support will help ease additional tension and stress on the body. Good grips that increase traction will help keep you steadier and less at risk of slipping and falling on potentially slippery leaves. Whenever possible use a leaf blower to make the task easier and faster.
Stretching – Again, like any other form of exercise, especially ones of a repetitive nature, stretching post-activity is key to helping prevent injury. Stretches should be long purposeful holds with no bouncing and should be held for approximately 30 seconds.