Expert Tips Make Raking Up Safer

It's a prime cause of back injury

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SATURDAY, Oct. 15, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Raking the leaves can provide good exercise and a chance to enjoy the autumn weather, but it can also result in back strain and sore muscles.

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association offers the following tips to keep raking risk-free:

  • If you have a heart condition or other medical problems, talk to your doctor before raking.
  • Wear well-fitting shoes with good soles that will prevent slipping.
  • Do stretches and warm-up exercises before you start raking.
  • When raking, hold the rake handle close to your body to help maintain good posture. Keep one hand near the top of the rake handle for better leverage. Use your arms and legs more than your spine when raking. Ergonomic rakes can help reduce the strain on your body.
  • Change sides frequently while raking and avoid twisting at the waist.
  • Pace yourself and take frequent breaks and/or change to a different activity.
  • When bagging leaves, lift manageable loads and keep your back straight and use your legs to do the lifting. If you have to stoop to pick up leaves, face the pile of leaves and don't twist as you lift.
  • Don't pile too many leaves into one bag -- especially if they're wet.
  • When you finish for the day, do cool-down exercises.

More information

The American College of Emergency Physicians offers more lawn and garden safety tips.

SOURCE: Canadian Physiotherapy Association, news release, Sept. 20, 2005

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