Along with the pleasure that every gardener experiences connecting with nature as the tulips pop up in the Spring, come the hours spent preparing the yard and garden after a long winter. This can be strenuous work involving physical exertion and repetitive movements using muscles that may not have been used since last year's clean up.
Cleaning up leaves is one of the first tasks of the season. Raking is a great form of exercise, although it can also be physically taxing chore. Follow these guidelines to minimize your risk of sustaining an injury and next day soreness.
CORRECT FORM INCORRECT FORM
- Your legs should be in a "scissor" stance with the right foot placed in front of the left for a few minutes, then reverse, placing your left foot forward and right foot back.
- Vary your movement while raking. If you have been raking pulling right to left, change direction. Alternate arm and hand positions so one arm isn't doing most of the work.
- Avoid twisting your body while raking. use your legs to shift your weight rather than twisting your back. When you are finished raking, use the proper bending and lifting technique to bag the leaves. Avoid over stuffing bags and use a wheel barrow to haul the load.
I recommend using a rake with a "scoop" design, this definitely makes leaf pick-up easier! Be sure to bend your knees to lift and scoop the leaves, avoid bending at the waist.
Lastly, don't forget to compost your leaves! You will avoid the need for garbage bags, and can recycle your leaves to nourish your organic garden.
More details on organic composting coming soon!