Raking leaves is one of the jobs that most people do not like to do. It is hard work and the job never seems to end. A few simple tips can make the job less of a pain and hopefully prevent injury.
First, warm up your body by doing some simple stretches to loosen the muscles and joints. Wear clothing in layers so you can take things off as your body heats up with the work. Be proactive and put band aids on both your thumbs before raking. The constant friction on the skin even with gloves can cause blisters on the thumbs.
One of the most important things to try an remember to do is to work from both sides of the body when raking. Do not rake all from one side. This can cause stress and strain on the muscles and tendons of the arms and shoulders. Rake a little from the right and a little from the left. Alternate sides periodically.
Take your time with the job. Rushing and doing it too fast can also increase the stress on the muscles and joints. When bending to pick up the leaves, bend with the legs, not the back. The repetition of doing it over and over can strain the lower back muscles and discs. Your legs are much stronger for this action. Keep the back straight and bend with the legs.
Newer ergonomic rakes now have a claw like end where when you pull up on a sliding handle, the claw closes grasping the leaves. This prevents you from having to bend over to pick up the leaves.
The key word with raking leaves is repetition. It is an action that you are doing over and over. From the constant arm motion with the raking to the bending over to pick up the leaves. Using the legs when picking up the leaves and alternating sides to break up the repetition can prevent many aches and pains. Having a lot of help when raking leaves also makes the job go much faster and easier.