Fall Yard Work Without the Pain: Tips to Protect Your Joints


Fall yard work often means raking leaves. But raking doesn’t have to cause you joint pain.

After the scorching heat of summer, fall’s cooler weather is a welcome change. Along with comfortable temperatures, the landscape lights up with colorful autumn leaves. Yet those leaves eventually fall to the ground, and that means you must rake them up. 

While raking leaves is a necessary task this time of year, it’s a chore that may strain your joints and muscles if not done properly. With these tips, you can tidy up your yard without the pain.

Rake safely this fall 

Your spine, shoulders, arms, and neck are all involved when you rake leaves. So, it’s no surprise the activity can strain those areas. Due to the repetitive motion of raking, it can also lead to pulled or torn muscles, too.

However, yard work this time of year doesn’t have to cause any pain. These six tips will lift the stress off your joints while you maintain a beautiful yard for the new season.

Warm up. Raking is a strenuous exercise just like any other intense workout. As such, you need to warm up your muscles beforehand. Ten minutes prior to picking up the rake, stretch your muscles to prepare them for the task ahead.

Buy the right rake. Your rake should match your height. A too-short rake or one that’s not appropriate for your height will force you to bend over repeatedly, and that’s not good for your back. Make sure your rake isn’t too heavy, too. Carrying around a too-heavy rake will tire you and that could lead to injuries. There are also ergonomic rakes on the market you can buy.

Follow the proper form. Just like any other exercise, form matters when raking leaves. The best technique when raking is to bend your legs slightly, putting one foot ahead of the other while pointing it in the direction you are raking. Your weight should be centered between your legs. Take short strokes and keep the rake close to your body to reduce stress on your back. Avoid twisting your body too much.

Get the right equipment. In addition to the right rake, wear sturdy, supportive shoes to lessen the strain on your feet and ankles. Your footwear should also be non-slip to prevent falls on wet surfaces. If you have arthritis in your hands, put on a pair of well-padded gloves. Gloves will also protect your hands from blisters and cuts.

Lift the right way. Once done raking, the leaves are gathered into bags, and those bags can be heavy! To lift up those weighty bundles, bend at your knees and hips, not your back or waist. Keeping your back straight, hold the bag close to you and slowly rise. Only lift what you can comfortably handle. Ask for help when lifting too-heavy bundles.

Pace yourself. Fatigue often leads to injuries. If you find yourself getting overly tired, stop and rest. Feeling any pain is another signal to stop. And you don’t have to rake the entire yard in one session! Break up the task in short intervals or over several days to reduce the strain on your joints. In the end, your landscape will look clean and beautiful for autumn.

Enjoy the new season with no pain

Yard work doesn’t have to cause pain. But if you experience discomfort after raking, visit the doctors and physical therapists at New York Bone & Joint Specialists. We can diagnose the problem and get you pain-free again with customized therapies. Contact us today for a consultation.

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