Avoiding Injury While Removing Leaves From Your Yard
Removing fallen leaves is a big part of seasonal cleanup in Ann Arbor MI, and most people don’t think of the task as dangerous. However, muscle strain and falls are two potential hazards. Here are ways to reduce your risk of injury during leaf removal.
Maintain Good Posture
The movement used in raking leaves activates muscles in the lower back, shoulders, abdomen, arms and legs. Poor body alignment puts extra strain on these muscles, and particularly the lower back. Avoid injury by:
• Stretching before you begin seasonal cleanup
• Keeping your weight centered by keeping your legs shoulder width apart
• Avoiding staying hunched over – take frequent breaks to stretch
• Raking small areas of the yard at a time to avoid overextending your reach
• Switching sides to work muscles evenly
• Not twisting at the waist. Rotate your whole body
• Keeping the elbows slightly bent
Use a Quality Rake
Find a quality rake that you feel comfortable using. The rake head should be securely attached to the handle so it won’t slip off during use, which could cause you to lose your footing and fall.
If your budget allows, look for a rake with an ergonomically designed handle. These allow the user to avoid repetitive bending, which is taxing to the back muscles.
Create Several Small Leaf Piles
Rather than rake leaves into one large pile, rake them into small piles. This reduces strain from dragging leaves across the yard to one pile. You will also be less tempted to try to lift a heavier bag of leaves than you should attempt to lift.
Use Proper Lifting Techniques
Small bags of leaves are not very heavy unless the leaves are wet. However, there is still the potential for back injury anytime you are lifting. Follow the rules for proper lifting, which are:
• Bend at the knees and not at the waist
• Use your leg muscles to lift and not your back muscles
• Maintain good spinal alignment when lifting the bag of leaves
• Keep the bag of leaves close to your body when lifting. This reduces the strain on your back.
• Stand up fully before pivoting to place the bag in a wheelbarrow or trash can. Pivot with your whole body and not just at the waist.
• Never toss the bag one handed into the trash.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
It is easy to become so immersed in yard work that you make simple mistakes, like forgetting about that flowerbed or hole in the yard right behind you. With one false step back, down you will go. Prevent twisted ankles and other injuries from stumbling or falling by remaining alert to your surroundings as you work.
Blisters are less serious than a strained back or an injury from falling. Nevertheless, they aren’t pleasant, but they can be avoided if you wear garden gloves while raking.
It is tempting to hurry through yard work, but remember that the leaves can wait. It is more important to do it safely than to do it quickly. This way, you can enjoy the beautiful fall season in Ann Arbor MI without a visit to your doctor’s office or a hospital.
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