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injury prevention while doing yardwork

Injury Prevention While Performing Yardwork

by Tara Hackney, PT, DPT, OCS, KTTPLeave a Comment

The leaves have fallen, and the snow will be here soon. Your yard work may include raking leaves or shoveling snow, cleaning gutters, or hanging lights. Raking and shoveling can be a strenuous activity that you might have yet to do. As you prepare your yard and house for the change in weather, remember these tips to prevent injury.

– Warm-up:

Take a quick walk around your yard and perform several quick, dynamic stretches to warm up your arms and back prior to beginning your yard work. Examples of dynamic stretches can include arm circles, trunk twists, and leg lunges.

– Wear the proper attire:

Wear supportive tennis shoes or snow boots. Wear clothing that you can move your arms and legs fully and is not too tight or too baggy. Gloves can protect your hands from blisters when raking leaves, and gloves should be worn when dealing with snow to prevent any cold weather injury.

– Use proper body mechanics:

  • Lift with your legs rather than your back
  • Avoid twisting- make sure your feet point in the direction you are aiming the shovel or rake
  • Lift smaller loads to make them lighter in weight or use a wheelbarrow or cart to move large or heavy objects
  • Pull the rake toward you in a straight line rather than twisting
  • Change your hand position often- you can also switch which side of your body the rake or shovel is on to avoid overworking one side

– Take frequent breaks and drink water

– Work with a partner if able.

The more people you have helping, the more you can divide the work and decrease the risk of overwork. A partner can also help hold a ladder if you are cleaning gutters.

– Ladder tips

  • Always have 3 points of contact on the ladder between your hands and feet
  • Ensure the ladder is set up correctly and fully open. Make sure the ladder is stable and set up on a stable surface
  • Do not stand on top of the ladder; follow the safety instructions on your ladder
  • Have another person with you to spot you on the ladder and help stabilize the ladder
  • Do not lean outside the rails of the ladder
  • Do not move the ladder with a person or equipment on it.

– Cool Down:

Perform cool-down stretches at the end of your work. Some light stretches for the arms and back afterward can help decrease soreness after yard work.

If you experience aches or pains after performing yardwork, consider contacting an Athletico expert to assess your pain – for free. Free assessments are available in-clinic or virtually through our telehealth platform.

Request a Free Assessment

*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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About the Author:
Tara Hackney, a physical therapist in Marion, IA, enjoys working with all patient types, especially gymnasts, cheerleaders, and dancers. She is the prominent blogger for Athletico's Gymnastic/Cheer Program. With an orthopedic specialization and training in dry needling and Graston technique, Tara hopes to answer your questions about injuries and injury prevention in an easy-to-understand manner. She hopes to ease fears surrounding pain and injuries, address concerns about recovery, and provide tips to prevent injury. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her dog, reading, and watching her nephews play sports.

Read more health resources related to these topics:

GeneralInjury PreventionLifestyleladder safetyladder tipsraking leavesyardwork

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