Warm Up Muscles to Prevent Injuries While Raking Leaves this Fall

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Posted: Sep 30, 2013 | by admin | 0 Comment

Fall weather means many things: cooler temperatures, colorful leaves…and an afternoon of raking.

If you’re not careful, it can also mean a trip to the doctor.

With all the bending, twisting, pulling and reaching motions that are required while raking, it’s easy to fathom how many people end up with achy, pulled and torn muscles.

In fact, more than 38,000 Americans sustained raking-related injuries in 2012, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“If done properly, leaf raking provides a great opportunity for outdoor exercise during a beautiful time of year,” said Dr. Raymond B. Raven, an orthopaedic surgeon and spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “However, if you have not exercised your shoulder, arm and neck muscles for some time, you can be seriously injured. Raking is vigorous exercise.”

Raven said everyone should warm up their muscles for at least 10 minutes with stretching before even picking up a rake. “In addition, be sure to wear gloves while working in the yard and in the garden,” he said. “Serious injuries and infections can easily be prevented.”

In addition, the AAOS recommends the following safety guidelines while raking:

  • Keep a straight back and turn your whole body while you rake to avoid twisting and back pain. Use your legs to shift your weight instead of your back, and avoid throwing a bag of leaves over the shoulder or to the side as this twisting motion also can strain the back.
  • Use short strokes to cut down the risk of over extension injuries.
  • Vary your movements.  Avoid excessive stress on one muscle group.
  • Bend at the knees and squat rather than at the waist when you pick up heavy piles of leaves or lift garbage bags or bins.
  • Make sure your rake is the proper height and weight. If it’s too short, you could strain your back. If it’s too heavy, it will put added strain on your neck and shoulders.
  • Wear gloves.  Opt for a rake with padded handles to prevent blisters.
  • Don’t obstruct your vision. Wear shoes with slip-resistant soles.
  • Start slowly and pace yourself. You don’t want to overexert yourself, especially if you have a lot more leaves to rake!

Source: AAOS news release

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