Avoid Injuries During Fall Cleanup

In Maine, we experience all four seasons. During autumn the leaves change, preparing for winter. It’s a beautiful sight that attracts thousands to our state each year, but what these visitors don’t see is the fall cleanup that begins once all the leaves have fallen.

During the fall, our orthopaedic team sees patients who have suffered an injury from fall cleanup. Knowing the proper way to rake can help you avoid injury during fall cleanup.

Tips for safe raking

  • Use the right rake for the job.  The handle should be chin height and your hands should be able to hold the rake 18″ to 24″ apart. If the rake is too short you can hurt your back, If it’s too heavy, you can strain your shoulders or neck.
  • Hold the rake handle close to your body. This will help you maintain an upright posture while raking and reduce stress on the spine.
  • Keep one hand near the top of the rake with the other hand placed low enough that the elbow is at a 30-50 degree bend. This helps create better leverage. Ergonomic rakes often have padded handles to reduce strain on the hands and wrists, with special handles that encourage good posture by ensuring that the elbows are bent slightly.
  • Rake to the side. This helps keep the back straight.
  • Bend at the knees with one foot ahead of the other. Avoid bending at your back.
  • Don’t twist. It’s better to move your legs and pivot your body by shifting your weight instead of planting your feet in a fixed position and raking in several directions from that position. This will make you tired but will assist in reducing stressors to your spine.
  • Make short strokes. Try not to overextend your muscles or spine.
  • Change sides and alternate hands frequently.  This helps balance the workload on your body.
  • Pace yourself and take breaks.

Tips for safe bagging & disposing of leaves

  • Be careful not to overstuff the bags. Wet leaves weigh more, so pack fewer leaves in the bags if wet.
  • When moving the bags, lift with your legs. Bend the knees and keep your back straight and stomach tight.
  • If a bag is large and heavy to lift, walk backward pulling the bag. Using a handcart or wheelbarrow to move bags works well.

Remembering the tips above will help you to avoid injury. If you do feel you’ve overworked, we are here for you! You can visit OrthoAccess, our orthopedic walk-in clinic or contact us to make an appointment.

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