Fall leaves are a natural beauty, but they can also be a pain. After all, they can smother lawns and smaller garden plants and attract pests.
The good news is that there are some strategies you can use to make leaf raking easier and less painful on your back. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to get the job done in no time!
Stretch Before You Begin
Raking your yard is a great way to keep up with the fall cleanup. But, it can also be challenging to your body and joints.
Stretching before and after leaf raking is essential to prevent injury. This is especially true if you’re not used to working in the yard, or are out of shape.
Physical therapist Courtney Budd, M.S.P.T., C.S.C., says a pre-activity stretching routine is helpful for all exercises, but especially those that involve heavy or repetitive movement.
In addition to strengthening muscles, a pre-activity stretching routine can increase blood flow to the tissue and decrease risk of muscle soreness following the activity. Budd recommends performing these stretches before and after raking leaves.
Wear the Right Gear
It’s important to wear the right gear when leaf raking. This includes gloves to protect your hands from the cold, long sleeves and pants to stay warm and prevent bugs from entering your lungs, and a dust mask to avoid breathing in airborne particles that can cause respiratory irritation.
Proper body posture is essential when raking to avoid putting strain on your back and neck. You should position your legs slightly bent, maintain a weight centered on the handle, and reach down with your arms rather than your back when you’re picking up leaves.
You’ll also want to choose the correct rake for your height and body type. A rake that is too short will force you to bend forward too much, and a rake that’s too wide will make it more difficult to rake leaves in smaller areas.
Don’t Overdo It
The autumn season is filled with cool weather, fall sports, and colorful leaves. It also brings new chores, such as raking, which can lead to injuries.
Back strains, shoulder injuries, and other upper-back and lower-back issues can arise as you rake away leaves. The following tips can help you avoid these potential problems:
A proper warm-up before you begin raking leaves can reduce the likelihood of back pain or injury. You can stretch your arms and legs, warm up your hips, and do some gentle squats to help your joints recover from the bending and twisting involved in leaf raking.
Use Short Sweeps
Raking leaves with long, sweeping swipes is exhausting and can lead to back pain. Instead, focus on short strokes and switch the rake from your left to right sides of your body every few minutes. This will give your dominant arm and shoulder a break, and keep you from overexerting yourself.
Raking leaves can be a great workout for your body. But you should take breaks as you need them and don’t overdo it.
As with any type of exercise, raking can be very intense and lead to injuries if done incorrectly. Proper form, including using a rake that is designed for this job and taking frequent breaks, can greatly reduce your risk of injury while leaf raking.
It is also important to keep your back straight as you rake. Switch your hands from the left to right every few minutes so you don’t overuse one side of your body. This is especially important when lifting bags of wet leaves.
Stomp on the Pile
Leaf piles can deprive grass of essential sunlight, impede the growth of cool-season grasses and attract pests. Fortunately, you can do your part to keep your lawn looking its best and prevent these problems by raking up those fallen leaves as quickly as possible.
Raking can be time-consuming, especially if you’re dealing with an abundance of leaves. Luckily, there are some simple tips that can help you make leaf raking faster and easier.
For example, you can save a lot of time by raking leaves directly onto a tarp or large sheet. When you’re ready to transport them, simply bring the corners of the tarp together and drag it wherever you need to dispose of them – the curb or the compost bin.