How to rake and decorate without killing your back

December 5, 2016

It’s the season for outdoor chores. Raking leaves, preparing for winter and setting up Christmas decorations might sounds like a back strain for some.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates roughly 38,000 Americans suffered injuries related to leaf-raking in 2012.

Here are some tips from Kaliq Chang, a physician at Atlantic Spine Center in New Jersey, to protect your back during outdoor chores.


— Stretch: Like other exercise, stretch your upper and lower back, arms, neck, legs and shoulders before raking.

— Stand tall: Don’t hunch. Instead, keep legs shoulder-width apart and bend knees slightly. Stand up straight to rest the lower back.

— Bend your knees: Bend your knees to pick up leaves, decorations or other items, to avoid straining your back.

— Take breaks: Break every 30 minutes or so, much like you would with exercise.

— Avoid twisting: Avoid planting your feet on the ground while raking and twisting in all directions with your back. Instead, use your feet and hips.

— Proper rake: Your rake should be properly sized for your height and strength.

— Good shoes: Wear shoes with skid-resistant soles to minimize the risk of slipping or falling, especially if leaves are damp.

— When using a ladder to decorate, don’t stand higher than the third rung from the top, and always keep three points of contact with the ladder.

— Stretch again: After working outside, stretch one more time.



McClatchy-Tribune Information Services