6 Stretches to Try Before Raking the LeavesLeave a Comment
After a summer of hot weather and mowing lawns, we now look forward to the changing colors of the trees and the inevitable downfall of leaves. While this may invoke memories of children making piles of leaves to jump in and enjoy, for those of use with larger trees near our yards, it can mean something much different. Raking is a repetitive task that can cause real aggravation to some of the more vulnerable structures in our lower back and shoulders. Luckily, you can always limit your risk of injury or strain with a proper stretch and warm up before picking up the rake. Here are a few stretches to try:
1. Shoulder Circles
This is one of the best warm ups for your arms and a great way to get some blood flowing in your shoulders before picking up that rake. While standing, raise both of your hands out to your side at about shoulder height. Start making small circles with your arms going both clockwise and counterclockwise. Try at least 20 times clockwise and counter-clockwise with small circles, then progress to 20 larger circles to increase your range of motion.
2. Standing Leg Kicks
Grab on to something sturdy and make sure you have your balance. With plenty of room in front of you and behind, start swinging your leg back and forth with your trunk upright in good posture. Feel a slight stretch in your hip each time you move forward and back, slowly increasing the range in which you are kicking. Kick 20 times for each leg.
3. Shoulder Adduction
Grab your elbow with the opposite arm and pull it across your body at chest height until you feel a stretch in the back of your shoulder. If you have a difficult time coming all the way across your body, try to lower your arm as much as necessary and pull across your torso. This is a great way to stretch the capsule surrounding the shoulder to keep you nice and loose. Hold twice for each arm, 30 seconds at a time.
4. Low Trunk Rotation
Lie down on the ground with both of your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. With your knees together, slowly start rotating them side to side until you feel a stretch in your hips and lower back. Try it about 20 times, starting small and increasing your range as you go. Rotate 20 times to the left and 20 times to the right.
5. Side-lying Trunk Rotation
This is another great way to stretch out your back before getting outside. Lie on the ground on your side with both knees bent together. With your upper arm straight, raise your fingers first up in the air toward the ceiling, and then let your hand fall down to the side opposite your legs. Open up your chest and feel the rotation in your spine. Only go to the level that you feel comfortable. Open up your arms 10 times on each side and hold for a 3 second count.
6. Single Knee to Chest
Lie flat on the ground on your back. Keeping one leg straight, grab behind your opposite knee with both hands and pull the knee toward your chest to feel a stretch right in your back pocket. If the stretch is too intense or bothers your lower back, try bending your opposite leg so that the bottom of your foot is resting flat on the floor. Hold twice on each side for 30 seconds at a time.
Ready for Raking
As always, make sure you warm up and get your blood pumping prior to any exercise or stretching. Perform the stretches again after raking the leaves if you’re worried that you might be feeling sore the next day. If you have any aches or pains that are sharp or have really started to bother you, call your local Athletico Physical Therapy clinic to set up a free assessment and get things checked out before they get worse.
Free Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.
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