Leaf Raking 101

Leaf Raking 101

leaf raking photoMany of us love fall:  crisp air, football games, colorful trees and even those leaves on the ground in your yard.  Raking leaves gives you the perfect opportunity to get outside, get some fresh air, and get in a good workout.  Best of all, your lawn with thank you!

According to Barbara Ainsworth, an exercise epidemiologist at San Diego State University, raking leaves is considered a moderate physical activity, similar to a brisk walk.  Raking leaves also strengthens your core muscles, back and stomach.

Here are some helpful tips to make the job a bit easier on your body:

Wear layers: That brisk cool air may feel good at first, but you will surely work up a sweat.  Wear layers that you can take off as you work.

Warm up: As with any physical activity, you should warm up your muscles before you begin any work out.  Walk around the yard inspecting the leaves.  As you do so, move your arms in circular movements, bending forward and backward and to each side.  You can add in some gentle stretches as well.

Correct stance is key:  Make sure to pay close attention to your posture as you rake.  James Weinstein, Chairman of the Department of Orthopedics at Dartmouth Medical School recommends forming a wide base with your feet and holding the rake slightly toward the end of the handle with one hand and three quarters of the way down the handle with the other.  Do not twist your spine, instead move your whole body like a rotating chair.  Make sure to not go any farther than your feel will allow.  Try to stand as straight as you comfortably can.

Switching sides:  Most people rake on one side.  This increases the risk of injury since raking tends to use the same muscles to do the same movement over and over.  Switch sides every 10 rakes.  This will help balance out the stress and strain to the lower back.

Taking it easy:  Don't try to over do.  Take your time and remember to take breaks and hydrate every 10/20 minutes.  Remember to cool down with some stretches when you are done.

Safety tips:

  • Rake leaves when they are dry to avoid slipping.
  • Wear good supporting shoes.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.  Holes in the ground, rocks, branches, roots sticking out of the ground, buried garden tools or misplaced hoses or lawn ornaments.
  • Look out for insects, especially the stinging kind, snakes, or other things that slither and crawl
  • Wear a good pair of gloves
  • If you have allergies wear a mask.

If you are too busy to rake, consider hiring a lawn company.  We recommend Billy Goat Lawn Care, Inc.  www.billygoatorganiclawncare.com.  Their mission is to provide families with a beautiful landscape that is safe for children, pets and the environment.  They only use self sustaining organic methods and never use any chemicals, poisons or pesticides.

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