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Using Proper Body Mechanics While Raking Leaves

Raking Leaves

Using Proper Body Mechanics While Raking Leaves

Using proper body mechanics while raking leaves can greatly reduce your risk of sustaining a back injury such as a herniated disc or a spinal muscle strain. The following tips will help you safely use your arms and legs to do all the work, placing less stress and strain on your lower back.

  • Stretch before your begin raking leaves to warm up and prepare your muscles for yard work. Stretching helps loosen tight muscles, improving your flexibility and your ability to use proper body mechanics.
  • To save your lower back, activate your abdominal muscles by gently pulling your belly button in. When properly activated and maintained during activity, your abdominal muscles create 180 degrees of support for your spine, thereby stabilizing your spinal musculature and protecting your lower back from injury.
  • Take breaks! Pace yourself and avoid overexertion. This means raking at your own pace, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and resting as needed.
  • To use proper body mechanics, stand with your feet about hip width apart, bend your knees and squat or lunge while you rake.
    • Do not reach too far out in front of you because you may rock yourself off balance, increasing your risk for falling. Do not twist your torso or your back. Reaching or twisting can be strenuous, damaging your muscles and the tissues supporting your spine.
      • Follow your nose with your toes so your body moves together as one unit, decreasing the torque on your lower back.
    • Use your muscles to your advantage!
      • Bend your knees into a squat or lunge to use your thigh and buttock muscles. This technique helps unload your spine, decreasing the risk for a back strain or injury.
    • Use care when lifting leaf bags. Maintain your body mechanics by squatting down and lifting one bag at a time using your legs for leverage, keeping the load of leaves close to you. Reaching out too far or twisting can put too much torque, added strain and stress on your back, leading to injury.
    • Have fun while avoiding injury!

To see a video demonstration on proper body mechanics while raking leaves, please see our YouTube video by clicking here.

If you have any further questions about proper body mechanics, call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center at 703-450-4300 to speak with our expert physical therapists and physical therapists assistants.

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