Now, if only they would flee into my neighbor’s yard instead of mine! Sigh. Fall is upon us and those beautiful autumn colors are starting to fill up the yard. It’s time to get out the rake. But before you do, did you know that, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 76,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, clinics and other medical settings for injuries related to non-powered garden tools, including rakes each year?

In addition, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), for both those unaccustomed to physical activity and regular exercisers alike, the dynamics of raking can lead to strain and injury to the back, shoulders, and wrists.

Wow! Bet you didn’t think raking leaves could be so risky did you?

Okay, so what do you do?  Before you take the Back Pain Quiz  here are our Top 10 Raking Tips that can help keep you out of the emergency room…or at least the chiropractor’s office.

#1. Do some form of stretching exercise  for ten minutes to warm up your muscles prior to raking.

#2. Wear shoes with skid-resistant soles to minimize the risk of slipping. Sturdy shoes can also reduce the risk of injuries to your feet

#3. Choose a properly-sized rake for your height and strength. A thicker handles makes for less hand fatigue. Grip your rake firmly with a comfortable amount of space between your hands.

#4. Always remember to wear gloves to help prevent blisters on the hands. Makes sense.

#5. Avoid twisting your body while raking. Stay balanced on both feet and use your legs to shift your weight rather than twisting your back.

#6.,Bend at the knees, rather than the waist, to pick up a tarp or a rake full of leaves. I know. I know. They may not weigh much, but it does help ease the strain.

#7. Try to vary your movements as much as you can to avoid overuse of muscle groups. Pull the rake from the left a few strokes, then switch hands and pull from the right. But always pull toward you with more leaves at your back.

#8. Don’t overdo. Raking is an aerobic activity. Take frequent breaks or slow your pace if you are an infrequent exerciser. Which is better, a few leaves for tomorrow or a sore back tonight?

#9. As with any form of exercise, be sure to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Keep that water bottle handy!

#10. And lastly, when you’re done, gentle muscle stretching can help relieve tension in any overworked muscles. Then a soak in a nice hot bath will relax those tight muscles. Ahhh…

So raking leaves isn’t as simple as you thought it was? Well, now you’re better prepared to head into the new season and stay healthy for the upcoming holidays, too!

Unfortunately, as you know all leaves make it to ground. So remember that a great gutter guard can go a long way when it comes to protecting your home.