Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Raking need not be painful

Tips for raking leaves safely ...

"This seasonal chore of raking fallen leaves doesn't have to be a pain in the neck - or back - says Dr. Lamont Smith of HealthSource Chiropractic & Progressive Rehab in Florence.

The key is planning ahead and using proper raking techniques. Here are some of his tips.

Question: What is the most important thing people can do to avoid injuries from raking leaves?

Answer: It's important to loosen up your muscles before any demanding physical activity. Take a short walk and do some stretching. For example:

To stretch the hamstrings, lie on your back on the floor and with your knee slightly bent, pull one leg toward the chest and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat this for three sets for both sides.

Another, called a Piriformis stretch, is for the lower back. Still lying on the floor, bend one knee and put the opposite ankle on top of the knee. Reach across and pull the knee in the opposite direction.

Q: Does it matter what type of rake you use?

A: I prefer using a rake with plastic prongs. They gather more leaves so you don't have to bend over as often to pick them up.

Q: Are "ergonomically correct" rakes, which have crooked handles, better than rakes with straight handles?

A: Not in my opinion. I bought one a few years ago and it actually hurt my back to use it. A straight handle is fine."

Q: What technique works best when raking leaves?

A: First, use a scissors stance. That means you stand with your right foot forward and your left foot back, keeping the knees slightly bent. Then rake from back to front. That keeps stress off of the back."    (Continued via The Enquirer)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Plastic Leaf Rake - Ergonomics

Plastic Leaf Rake

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