4 Tips to Avoid Injuries During Your Fall Leaf and Lawn Clean Up
By Peter Yucis, PT, DPT, Physical Therapist—Virtua Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation
As the temperature cools and the season begins to change, the trees come alive with beautiful color. It’s a welcome sight to revel in—until those leaves fall—leaving you with a lawn to clean up.
Raking leaves, picking up fallen limbs, and bagging yard debris is strenuous work that can be hard on your body, specifically your middle and lower back. Following these tips can help you protect yourself from injury:
Mind your rake height
- The handle of the rake should come up to at least the height of your shoulder.
- A shorter rake can lead you to bend more at your waist, which can cause low back pain.
Use proper raking technique
- Utilize short strokes so you don’t overextend your arms, which can lead to shoulder pain.
- Move your feet while raking instead of staying in place and twisting, which can lead to lower and middle back pain.
Use proper lifting techniques
- Make sure you’re facing the limb or bag you’re about to pick up.
- Bring your hips back and bend with your knees. Avoid bending with your back.
- Push with your legs to lift up the item from the ground and carry it close to your body.
- When you put the item down, avoid twisting at the waist. Instead, pivot your entire body and square up your hips and shoulders to where you plan to place the item. And, remember to bend at the knees again to put it down.
- Take frequent breaks to avoid overexertion and drink water to prevent dehydration.
- During rest periods, walk around to stretch your low back.
- Do standing extension exercises to avoid low back pain. To do this exercise, place your hands on your hips and bend back through your low back to the point of tension, but not pain.
Following these tips can help you complete your fall clean up safely and without pain.
Do you need care for an injury?
Virtua Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation offers a full range of therapy services including in-person and telehealth appointments.
If you’re experiencing low back pain, physical therapy can help you avoid medication and get the relief you need.
Updated November 3, 2020