Healthy Back Tips

December 2005

Leaf Raking Guidelines

The fall is the season for leaves falling on the ground. Many of us will find ourselves in the yard raking. Unfortunately, raking is an activity that is potentially irritating to our backs because of the tendency to bend and twist the back as well as the high number of repetitions required to do the job. Back strain from raking can be avoided or at least minimized by following a few guide-lines. (Picture A) shows an example of improper body mechanics. The individual is standing in one place while raking leaves by bending forward, twisting, and extending his arms as far as they can reach. Instead, bend your knees slightly and maintain the normal curve in your low back. Pull the rake close to your body while shifting your weight back and forth between your legs (Picture B). To reduce the work load on your back muscles, gently pull in your abdominal muscles. Be careful not to hold your breath during the activity. Taking frequent rest breaks will keep the back muscles from being overused.

Picture A
An example of improper body mechanics.

Picture B
Pull the rake close to your body while shifting your weight back and forth between your legs.


If you would like more information about proper body mechanics for raking leaves, contact the Atlanta Back Clinic, or call us at 770-491-6004 to set up an appointment with a physical therapist.