Fall leaves — so pretty on the trees, can be a nuisance when they hit the ground. Before you reach for your rake, read these tips to make your yard work hurt a whole lot less this fall.
Warm Up Thoroughly
- Cold, tight muscles are more prone to injury than warmed up, flexible muscles.
- Do your back a favor by warming up for five to ten minutes before shoveling or any strenuous activity.
- Get your blood moving with a brisk walk, marching in place, or another full-body activity.
- Stretch your low back and hamstrings (the large muscles in the back of the thigh) with some gentle stretching exercises. The easiest way to do this is lying on the ground with one leg straight done and the other being pulled towards your body. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to one minute, repeat and do the same on the other leg.
Keep Your Feet on the Ground
- Slippery conditions while shoveling can lead to slipping and/or falls and strains that can injure your back.
- Shoes or boots with good treads will help to minimize injuries from slipping.
Ergonomic Gardening Tips
- To avoid lifting, rake leaves onto a canvas tarp. When full, pull the tarp and unload the debris to the desired location.
- Gloves should be form-fitting. Thin gloves are preferred; too much padding will decrease hand strength, coordination and power grip.
- Elbows should be kept below heart level as much as possible. The use of long-handed tools or taking periodic breaks to minimize such movements will keep your body in a comfortable position.
- Avoid working with your thumbs pointing toward the floor. This arm position “wings” your elbow out and reduces your applied strength while adding stress to the body.