Raking Tips for Autumn

Safety in Autumn – Raking Leaves

Autumn Leaves - Raking
From joiseyshowaa via Flickr

The winds are up; the leaves are down. Unless you plan to collect mushy leaves following the spring thaw of 2016, you’re facing the undesirable task of raking up your annual collection of leaves! Here are a FIVE (5) keys and tips I think will help you get through your raking safely, quickly, and without incident.

1> Warm up first 

Warming up will prepare you for activity, ensuring you are primed to and ready to go. Take your time and stay within your comfort level! This is just a warm-up, no need to push beyond your limits here! Hold each stretch for 10-15 seconds. Scroll to the bottom of the page for a list of stretches to get started.

2> Get “Ready” to Work

Ready RakingAssume a “Ready” position! Raking is a form of activity, so you want all parts of your body engaged. Stay relaxed, but prepared to work — bending slightly at the hips and knees will help these areas reduce the stress on your back by absorbing some of the load.

3> Use Two Hands – Always!

This will steady your body and create a solid link between the upper body, lower body, and torso. Using just one hand forces us to twist in order to generate enough force to complete our jobs — this is very difficult on our back!

4> Stay Close and Avoid Reaching

Reaching big distances with a rake or working to the side/behind you is really demanding a lot of our back. Reduce the load by continuing to move your feet around and keeping your raking area both close and in front of you at all times.

5> Be a Switch-Hitter

Raking Both HandsDon’t let “Handedness” get in the way! Although we might prefer to do things one way, try to switch it up frequently — this will prevent one part of your body from becoming overworked. If you lead with the left foot — occasionally switch to the right. If you have your left hand low on the rake — occasionally switch so your left hand is high.


Dr. Jim Gilliard is a chiropractor in Burlington, ON — if you have questions, comments, or wish to book an appointment, contact him at your convenience by leaving a comment below, visiting his website, via email at drjimgilliard@gmail.com, by phone at (905) 634-6000, or in person at Endorphins Health and Wellness Centre.


Raking Stretching
  • Side stretchSide Stretch - Raking
  1. Raise your right hand overhead
  2. Bend to the left from your waist
  3. Hold for 10-15 seconds
  4. Repeat on other side.
  • Shoulder stretch
  1. Shoulder Stretch - RakingHold your right arm straight out in front, then reach to your left
  2. Use the left arm to hold your right elbow
  3. Hold stretch for 10-15 seconds
  4. Repeat other side
  • Wrists
  1. Wrist Stretch RakingHold right arm straight out in front
  2. Hold wrist with palm facing forward — like a “stop” sign
  3. Use the left hand to hold this “stop” position
  4. Hold stretch for 10-15 seconds
  5. Repeat with wrist down — palm facing you
  6. Repeat with other side
  • QuadricepsQuadriceps stretch - Raking
  1. Stand next to a chair or wall, using your left hand for support
  2. Bend your right knee, and grasp the right ankle with your right hand
  3. Hold stretch for 10-15 seconds
  4. Repeat with other side
  • Hamstrings
  1. Hamstring stretch - RakingStand next to a chair or stool, use the wall as support if needed
  2. Place your right heel on the chair/stool, bend forward at the waist*
  3. Hold stretch for 10-15 seconds
  4. Repeat with other side

*Tip: If you feel this pulling at the back of the knee instead of the back of the thigh, bend the knee slightly, then tilt the hips forward. This should remove tension from the sciatic nerve and provide more of a hamstring stretch.*

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