For some, tending to yard work can be therapeutic and calming, as it is nice to get outdoors in the crisp fall air and move about briskly.
For the whole population, yard work (particularly raking) can be hard on the back and body, possibly causing strain and injury. Preserve your back’s health before the winter shoveling rolls around with these sound ergonomic tips for raking and general yard work.
1) Stretching is a MUST!
It is imperative to loosen up your joints and muscles before diving into any yard work with some light stretching before. Below, we have outlined a few easy stretches you can do to get yourself prepped for some ache-free raking. Ideally, you should hold each of these stretches for 15 seconds and repeat them up to 5 times.
Shoulders: Allow your arms to hang, rotate your shoulders forward and then rotate back.
Sides: Extend one arm over your head, bend left from the waist and then do the right side.
Back: While seated bend from the hips while keeping your head down and reach for the ground.
Arms & Shoulders: Give yourself a hug and slowly rotate at the waist as far as you comfortably can, rotating to the left and the right.
Hamstrings: Standing, reach your hands up to the sky, then bend at the waist and reach towards your toes.
2) Conduct Overall Conditioning: Keep your body warmed up throughout, by taking a brisk walk for about 10-15 minutes. For proper walking form, life your knees and gently swing your arms.
3) Have the Right Tools and Moves: Be sure to invest in high quality tools for the yard work task and be aware of the ergonomic moves/techniques you are utilizing. Don’t forget to switch up positions while you work!
4) ALWAYS bend with your knees: Most lifting injuries and pains are preventable, especially when correct lifting practices are used. Avoid those aches with these key steps:
1) Get Close to the load
2) Lift with your back knees bent and back straight, using your leg and arm muscles
3) Carry the load close to your body and pivot with your feet to avoid twisting
4) Bend your knees and slowly lower the load
Consult your chiropractor if you experience back or muscle pain lasting more than 48 hours after completing yard work.
Ontario Chiropractic Association. Plant and Rake Without the Ache [poster]. Toronto, ON: Ontario Chiropractic Association.
Ontario Chiropractic Association. Stretch Before You Start [poster]. Toronto, ON: Ontario Chiropractic Association.