Why Raking Leaves Can Cause Back Pain (And Tips To Help Avoid It) - Functional Advantage
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Why Raking Leaves Can Cause Back Pain (And Tips To Help Avoid It)


It’s one of the most beautiful times of the year, Fall. Our patients have started breaking out their sweaters and fall scented candles and are enjoying the beautiful color changes happening outside. But soon after the color changes, those leaves start to make a mess in our yards and the clean up can cause a lot of pain.

One of the most common complaints we get at the clinic around this time of year is low back pain.

And it is very easy to injure your back doing something that is required of homeowners every year, making sleeping and your everyday activities very uncomfortable.

Why Can Raking Leave You In So Much Pain?

A lot of people only do the repetitive motion of raking and bending over again and again to pick up leaves once or twice a year. It’s the same reason why you may feel sore after gardening in the springtime.

While raking most people only use their dominant hand which can cause strain on only one side of the body. It is important to switch hands so you can give your muscles a break and evenly distribute the work to both sides.

Keep reading for more tips that may help you while cleaning up your yard this fall!

7 Tips To Help Avoid Back Pain While Raking Leaves:

1. Warm Up- Take 5-10 minutes to get moving and warm up your muscles. Going for a short walk followed by light stretching is a great way to prevent soreness after raking.

2. Pay attention to your posture- When you put your body in awkward positions, it puts extra strain on your muscles. Make sure when you are raking you have your legs slightly bend and that you are reaching with your arms not your back. It is important to stand up straight every 10-15 minutes to reduce strain on your back.

3. Choose The Right Rake- Use a rake that is correct for your body size. Make sure that the rake is long enough so you aren’t bending over more than you have to. Also pay attention to the width of the rake. Wider rakes gather more leaves but also makes it heavier to pull.

4. Bend with your knees- When lifting the leaves up, make sure to pay attention to your posture and keep your back straight. Bend with your knees and hips instead of lifting with your back.

5. Switch Hands- As we mentioned earlier, it is important to distribute the work to both sides of the body. Make it a priority to switch hands when you take a break to stand up straight every so often.

6. Wear Good Shoes- Supportive footwear can eliminate strain on your back in many situations. It is important that you are working in supportive, non-slip shoes.

7. Drink Water- Make sure you are drinking plenty of water while working. Your muscles need water to function and when you keep hydrated you reduce the risk of muscle strain.

*If you are experiencing soreness after raking your leaves, make sure to refer to our blog post about when to use heat vs ice to help with your muscle soreness. Click here to read the article.

We hope that these tips help you avoid the awful low back pain that can come with raking leaves. If you still find yourself in pain and it is affecting your daily activities and/or your sleep, click here to fill out a short form and request a free 20-minute consultation with one of our physical therapists and find out EXACTLY what is causing your pain and what you can do to get relief.


Neil Sauer

Neil Sauer

Physical Therapist, Certified Health Coach and company owner Neil Sauer graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science. During that time he played four years of collegiate soccer. Neil earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Central Michigan University in 2006. He has taken continuing education courses for Stanley Paris manual therapy techniques and a Gary Gray Functional Training course. He has also taken selective functional movement assessment courses with the North American Sports Medical Institute (NASMI). Neil’s treatment philosophy goes beyond reducing pain and restoring motion/mobility. He has a passion for health and wellness and for improving the quality of life of his clients, and works holistically with them to ensure their injuries do not reoccur and that his clients enjoy optimal functionality. He strives to help his patients live more active, mobile and healthy lives knowing that they don’t have to rely on pain medications, injections or surgery. In his personal life, he is married and has two sons. During spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, fishing, spending time outdoors and leading an active and healthy life. Neil also likes to read as much as possible when he finds/makes time. He primarily reads books on leadership, business and special forces. An avid exercise enthusiast, he continually works to improve his own health and wellness.
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