<Raking Leaves>

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Raking Leaves

Without Wrecking Your Back


back pain_line drawing














Raking leaves can really wreak havoc on your back!  To some it's an obvious pain in the back. To others it's unwittingly straining the spinal musculature.  But it doesn’t have to be that way. Using proper body mechanics when raking, as well as performing other chores around the house, can greatly reduce back pain, strain and other injuries.


The safe way to rake is to let your arms and legs do the work. Do not twist your body, or sweep to the side. Sweeping to the side requires twisting of the body. This creates torsion forces on the muscles, and other tissues protecting the spine. These torsion forces are unnecessarily strenuous, and damaging to your spine. Keep your movements in the forward and backward direction only.


Gently keeping your belly button tucked in will help activate your abdominal muscles to stabilize and protect the spine. Healthy, strong abdominal muscles are crucial to a healthy back.   Click here for more about abdominal muscles.

Proper use of body mechanics always requires you to keep your work close to the body. Don’t reach out too far by bending at the spine. Use your legs and arms only for the reach. So, keep your spine upright and straight as you lunge with your legs and reach with you arms. Gather the leaves into piles by pulling them toward you. Alternate hand position frequently to share the load evenly on your muscles.


An important note:  The benefits of using good body mechanics when raking are lost if you then lift all those leaves into the yard bags with poor mechanics!! Use your legs to do the lifting as you keep your spine straight.

What can you do to prevent back pain?


  1. Use proper body mechanics.
  2. Develop an appropriate balance of muscle strength, flexibility and endurance.
  3. Pace yourself.
  4. Always do some warm up exercises prior to any yard work. This helps prepare the muscles for the onslaught of work.
  5. Always stretch.

    Stretching and flexibility exercises are best done to loosen muscles that have been worked and are still warm. They may be incorporated in your warm up if you feel tight before starting your work.


Domenic Lopez, B.Sc., owner and operator of Healthy Moves, is Certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a Health Fitness Specialist and Clinical Exercise Specialist. He is also a Pennsylvania-Licensed Massage Therapist.

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