Fall foliage is in full swing and your yard may be beckoning you to rake up the leaves. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, raking leaves or using other garden tools results in more than 76,000 injuries per year. Just like any physical activity, raking leaves can take a toll on your body as well as result in accidents or injury. Many of the muscles used for raking may not be ones that you use normally. Follow these tips to help you stay safe while raking leaves!
Warm up. As anxious as you may be to see your grass again, avoid jumping right into raking. Take a leisurely stroll around your property or street to warm up your muscles.
Choose a rake that is appropriate for your size and strength. If your rake is too small, you may find your back aching later on. If your rake is too heavy, you may find yourself out of breath and quick to tire.
Dress appropriately for the weather to prevent from being too cold. Dress in layers to prevent overheating.
Wear appropriate shoes to provide traction. Damp or wet leaves can be almost as slippery as ice!
Make sure you’re properly equipped. Gloves can prevent blisters, sunglasses or a baseball cap (or other brimmed hat) can protect your eyes, and a hood or woven cap can keep your ears warm.
Watch for trip hazards. Avoid laying lawn equipment on the ground where you can step on or trip over it. Be sure to check for fallen branches or sticks that can get in your way.
Use proper form. Be sure to bend your knees, keep your back straight and pull the rake (and leaves) towards you. Try to avoid any motions that will twist your back.
Pace yourself. You may be tempted to rake quickly to get it done faster, but taking it slow is better for your body. Take frequent breaks to avoid exhaustion or straining your body.
Stay hydrated. Even though it may be cool outside, it is important that you drink water while performing physical activity.
Lift with caution. When bagging leaves up, make sure you’re bending at the knees rather than arching your back. Avoid overfilling bags—leaves can become heavy!
Cool down. When you’re done, take a slow walk around your yard or sit and stretch to relax your muscles.
For Health Advocate members
If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the wellness coaching component of our Wellness Program, contact your Wellness Coach today for more tips for a safe and healthy autumn.