Rake with Caution!

tip165 Brightly colored leaves are one of the charms of autumn, but raking them also sends thousands of people to emergency rooms each year. Raking is vigorous exercise and while exercise is good for your blood sugar, you should pay close attention to your arms and back to avoid injury.

To prevent injury from raking, be sure to:

  • Warm up for at least 10 minutes with some stretching and light exercise.
  • Use a rake that is comfortable for your height and strength. Wear gloves or use rakes with padded handles to prevent blisters.
  • Keep your vision free of impediment, like hats or scarves, and beware of large rocks, low branches, tree stumps, or uneven surfaces.
  • Vary your movement, alternating your leg and arm positions often. When picking up leaves, bend at the knees, not the waist.
  • Wet leaves can be slippery; wear shoes or boots with slip-resistant soles.
  • Do not overfill leaf bags, especially if the leaves are wet. To avoid back injury, you should be able to carry bags comfortably.
  • Never throw leaves over your shoulder or to the side. The twisting motion required to do so places undue stress on your back.

Yard work, no matter how you do it, is exercise. Before you undergo any new type of exercise or vigorous fitness plan, you should discuss with your doctor the best way to work in your work out.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Avoiding the ‘Rakes and Pains' of Autumn Yard Work. (Accessed 10/08)

Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 01/09

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