How to rake leaves without injuring yourself

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Chiropractor Dr. Sean Felton offers tips on how best to rake leaves, preventing injury.

General Rules:
-Warm up. This is both for your muscles and your cardiovascular system. Take a short walk before raking and get the blood flowing. (It is usually cold outside when we are raking/shoveling and constricts our blood vessels, we want these to open up before we stress them). Do a few stretches to open up the chest and shoulders, the hips and the low back.
-Use the proper equipment. When you stand the rake on end it should be at least about the level of your chin. Too short and you end up bending forward at the waist and putting pressure on the low back.
-Dress in layers to stay warm and have the ability to shed clothes if you start to sweat.
-H2O breaks---staying hydrated helps body function better and decreases chances for injury...take regular breaks to let your body recooperate and to guage whether or not you have over done it.


Raking/shoveling Tips:
-Place one foot in front of the other and bend your knees, shift your weight back and forth as you rake.
-Don't twist your torsoe. Work directly in front of you
-Keep rake handle close to the body and don't reach too far
-Switch lead raking hands often to distribute the stress from side to side
-Don't overfill bags. You are going to have to lift them. When lifting, keep bags close to body and centered and lift with your legs NOT YOUR BACK.

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