Autumn is a beautiful time of year ! The cool dry air, the smell of warm apple cider, the colorful leaves fluttering down –all just a few reasons why fall is a favorite season for so many. Raking those colorful leaves is another story though, especially if you suffer from painful arthritis, an injury or other limiting conditions. Here are some leaf raking tips to lessen arthritis pain–making it less of a chore and more of an opportunity to enjoy a beautiful day outdoors.
Have a plan before you head out the door to begin work
Consider the task at hand. How big is your yard? Are you starting in the front yard or the back yard? How can you break down the job into manageable pieces? Having a plan of attack will improve your efficiency resulting in less stress on painful joints. Check the weather forecast. You don’t want to be surprised by a windstorm that blows away the pile of leaves before you have had a chance to finish your project. Make sure to rake when leaves are dry so that they are lighter and easier to gather.
Have all the equipment you need ready before you start
For instance, there are a wide variety of ergonomic rakes readily available at local hardware, home improvement and super stores or via the internet. An ergonomically correct rake might cost just a little more but will save you substantially by reducing finger pain, wrist pain, and back strain. There are styles of ergonomic rakes that can be adjusted to further reduce the chance of strain or injury. The snake rake is an example of an adjustable ergonomically designed rake. http://www.snakerake.com/home.html
If you are bagging your leaves, make sure you have the bags so you don’t have to stop your project to make a trip to the store in order to finish.If you compost, you could also use a wheelbarrow to move the leaves. A large capacity option that lays flat so you can rake directly into it is the “Rake and go Cart”. http://www.backyardstyle.com/shop/index.php?page=shop-flypage-34471
Get comfortable work gloves. If you have arthritis in your hands good gloves are particularly important as your hands may be sensitive to the cold.
Be sure to wear any finger splints or wrist splints you use regularly to support your joints. The gloves mentioned above may also help keep your splints in place and clean.
Pull on your sturdy work shoes that provide good support and a jacket appropriate for the weather and you are ready to go!
Be physically prepared for your task
Perform some light stretches before you begin work and do a cool down stretch after you’ve finished.
Hydrate before you head out and have water available while you are working. Staying well hydrated decreases arthritis joint pain.
Make raking a family or neighborhood affair
Leaf raking is a great way to connect with your family and friends by doing something active together. Provide some of that apple cider and cookies to celebrate each other and a job well done.
Whether you work alone or with a group make sure to pay attention to what your body is telling you and rest as necessary. The leaves will wait for you! If the job is more than you want to tackle, enlist the help of enterprising neighborhood youth to help you get the job done.
Give yourself some time to rest after you’ve been working
Raking leaves is hard, physical work and can aggravate painful joints. Be sure to rest afterward and follow other instructions from your doctor that you follow after any workout.
With a bit of planning autumn leaf raking will be easier on your joints and maybe even fun. By having a plan, taking your time, and asking for the help you need, pain caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other painful conditions won’t keep you from doing what you need to do. Happy (and comfortable) raking!!Like what you’ve read? Click here to subscribe to the blog!