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Healthy and Wellness: Six tips to protect your back when raking leaves

Healthy and Wellness: Six Tips to Protect Your Back When Raking Leaves Raking leaves is a common task during the fall season. While it may seem like a simple chore, it can actually put a strain on your back if not done correctly. Dr. Carrie Jose, in her latest Health and Wellness column, provides six valuable tips to protect your back when raking leaves. 1. Warm Up Beforehand Before you start raking, it's important to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for the physical activity. Take a few minutes to stretch your back, shoulders, and arms. Simple stretches like shoulder rolls, trunk rotations, and toe touches can help loosen up your muscles and reduce the risk of injury. 2. Use the Right Tools Using the right tools can make a world of difference when it comes to protecting your back while raking leaves. Invest in a rake that has an ergonomic design with an adjustable handle. This will allow you to adjust the handle to a height that is comfortable for you, reducing strain on your back. Additionally, consider using a rake with padded handles to provide extra cushioning and grip. 3. Use Proper Body Mechanics Proper body mechanics are crucial to preventing back injuries while raking leaves. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees slightly. This will help you maintain a stable base of support and distribute the workload evenly across your body. Avoid twisting your back while raking and instead use your entire body to move and pivot. 4. Take Frequent Breaks Raking leaves can be a repetitive and physically demanding task. It's important to listen to your body and take frequent breaks to rest and stretch. Overexertion can lead to muscle fatigue and increase the risk of back strain. Take short breaks every 15-20 minutes to give your body a chance to recover. 5. Lift Properly When it comes to collecting and bagging the leaves, it's essential to lift properly to avoid back injuries. Bend at your knees and hips, not your back, when picking up heavy bags of leaves. Use your legs and core muscles to lift the load, keeping it close to your body. Avoid twisting or bending sideways while carrying the bags, as this can strain your back. 6. Stay Hydrated Staying hydrated may not seem directly related to protecting your back when raking leaves, but it plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and preventing muscle cramps. Dehydration can lead to muscle tightness and increase the risk of injury. Remember to drink plenty of water before, during, and after raking to keep your muscles hydrated and functioning properly. In addition to these six tips, Dr. Carrie Jose also emphasizes the importance of listening to your body. If you experience any discomfort or pain during raking, stop immediately and take a break. Pushing through the pain can worsen the injury and prolong your recovery time. Remember, prevention is better than cure. By following these tips and practicing good body mechanics, you can enjoy raking leaves without the fear of back injuries. Take care of your back, and it will take care of you.

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