It’s the season for outdoor chores. Raking leaves, preparing for winter and setting up Christmas decorations might sounds like a back strain for some.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates roughly 38,000 Americans suffered injuries related to leaf-raking in 2012.
Here are some tips from Kaliq Chang, a physician at Atlantic Spine Center in New Jersey, to protect your back during outdoor chores.
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▪ Stretch: Like other exercise, stretch your upper and lower back, arms, neck, legs and shoulders before raking.
▪ Stand tall: Don’t hunch. Instead, keep legs shoulder-width apart and bend knees slightly. Stand up straight to rest the lower back.
▪ Bend your knees: Bend your knees to pick up leaves, decorations or other items, to avoid straining your back.
▪ Take breaks: Break every 30 minutes or so, much like you would with exercise.
▪ Avoid twisting: Avoid planting your feet on the ground while raking and twisting in all directions with your back. Instead, use your feet and hips.
▪ Proper rake: Your rake should be properly sized for your height and strength.
▪ Good shoes: Wear shoes with skid-resistant soles to minimize the risk of slipping or falling, especially if leaves are damp.
▪ When using a ladder to decorate, don’t stand higher than the third rung from the top, and always keep three points of contact with the ladder.
▪ Stretch again: After working outside, stretch one more time.