Rakes & Pains
In many parts of the country the beauty of autumn is unfolding with breathtaking foliage. The pleasant cool air, the smell of warm apple cider, and the colorful leaves floating down are all reasons why autumn is my favorite season.
Unfortunately raking those colorful leaves is another story though; especially if you suffer from an injury or other limiting condition. Here are Stacy’s six common sense ideas to make garden clean-up raking less of a painful chore and more of an opportunity to enjoy a beautiful day outdoors.
To prevent muscle injury, perform a light warm-up before picking up that rake (sign up for the Garden for the Health of It newsletter right here and receive my FREE Fit to Garden guides). A quick five minutes will do the trick, you can thank me later! Simply walk around the yard and pick up sticks, check the garden beds, do some arm circles, fill the bird feeder, walk the dog, whatever. Just get that body moving and you’re good to go.
2. AVOID BENDING AT THE WAIST
Pay close attention, this is definitely my most important tip. Do not hinge forward at the waist while extending the rake in front of you. Instead, keep your knees slightly bent and keep your work as close to you as possible.
3. RAKE DANCING
Move those feet! Walk backwards or sideways while raking to cover more ground. Staying in one spot results in awkward bending and reaching ultimately stressing the low back and shoulders.
4. THE OLE SWITCHEROO
Be sure to switch leg and arm positions frequently. It is also important to keep a broad stance. A good rule of thumb is to stagger your feet as wide as your shoulders. Avoid holding on to the rake at the end of the handle, keep one hand half way down the handle to enhance maneuverability. Imagine you are pushing and pulling the rake almost like a pool stick; the hand that is placed down the handle will glide.
5. NO TWIST & SHOUT
If you twist your body while raking, you will be shouting the next day! Simply point your feet in the direction that you are reaching. Keep moving those feet to protect your back…hey, you will burn more calories, too.
I know, I know. I KNOW. Don’t even say it! You just spent two hours raking the yard and you don’t want to hear my enthusiastic lecture about stretching. Just humor me this one time and perform a couple of chair stretches(sign up for the Garden for the Health of It newsletter right here and receive my FREE Fit to Garden guides) . Spending five minutes at this point is much better than feeling sore the entire next day.
Shhhhh, don’t tell…raking leaves is a great way to sneak in some exercise and burn a significant amount of calories. So go ahead and enjoy that caramel apple!