Father and son raking leaves

Stock photo

FALLing in Love With Autumn

By Lt(N) Melanie Matthews

Posted on Thursday October 15, 2020

Well folks, and just like that, summer has disappeared and fall is now upon us.

You know what that means - the ground covered in leaves, and lots of them.

When I was a kid, I loved jumping into piles of leaves. Unfortunately, now I understand how my fun was at the mercy of my poor father who spent all that time collecting them.

Now that I am the one doing the raking, I understand the look he gave me!

So, if you choose to pick up a rake to tackle the leaves, please take the following tips into consideration to help reduce your risk of injury:

● Getting Started: Take five minutes to loosen and warm up your muscles and get your blood flowing, as cold or tight muscles are more prone to injury; don’t forget your hamstrings, as tight hamstrings put extra stress on your lower back.

● The Best Rake for You: Make sure your rake is tall enough so that you are not bending over to use it, but not so tall that you have trouble managing it comfortably. Your rake should be lightweight so as not to strain your neck/shoulders. One hand should be at the end of the rake and the other about 3/4 of the way down.

● Pace yourself: Break your yard into sections that can be completed in 15-20 minutes and tackle each section on a different day of the week. Trying to do everything at once can lead to overuse injuries including tendonitis or strained muscles. If you only have one day to complete the task, at least make sure you are resting for 15 minutes between each 15-20 minute session and drink plenty of water.

● Switch it up: For most people, it feels a bit more comfortable to lead with either the left or right hand. Still, it is important to switch hands every five minutes or so to prevent excessive strain on one side of the body. This can also help prevent blisters from overuse on one area of the hand.

● Move a little bit closer: Don’t reach too far forward while raking – take more steps so you don’t overstrain your back!

By following these simple tips, you can reduce your risk of injury while getting physically active in nature. For more injury reduction tips talk to your physio, fitness, or health promotion staff. Stay safe!