PT Classroom - Injury Prevention Tips For Raking Leaves & Shoveling Snow ׀ by Sean Sheerin, PTA

 

Sean Sheerin earned his physical therapist assistant associate degree from Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, WI. He has a special interest in orthopaedics and sports rehabilitation as well as being a clinical instructor for PTA students. His personal hobbies include Jiu-Jitsu and cycling. In his spare time he owns and operates a bicycle repair shop in Burlington, WI.

 

 

Fall is here and winter is just around the corner. With the seasonal changes comes the inevitable tasks of raking leaves and shoveling snow. Though these tasks may seem like simple outdoor chores, they can be quite physically demanding on the body, and when performed improperly could result in an injury. When performing these tasks it is important that the individual dress appropriately, warm up/stretch and utilize proper body mechanics in order to minimize the risk of an injury.

 

Injury Prevention Tips When Raking Leaves

 

 

Perform a warm up and stretching exercises to loosen up muscles
- Take a short walk
- Perform stretching exercises such as arm circles, standing forward bend, standing side bend, and standing trunk rotation

Position yourself so that you are facing the area which you will be raking, as facing to the side would require you to twist or reach excessively

Try to keep your back straight and upright by avoiding twisting and over extending your reach while raking in order to minimize stresses on your back

Position one leg in front of the other and then reverse your foot position every so often so as to minimize additional strain to one side of the body

Keep your knees slightly bent and move your legs and not your back when changing the direction of raking

Alternate hand positions and the direction you pull with the rake every so often so as to minimize additional strain to one side of the body

Take frequent 10-15 minute breaks            
When picking up leaves or bags of leaves bend at your hips and knees and not with the back.
 

Please click here for handout on: Injury Prevention Tips When Raking Leaves

 

Injury Prevention Tips When Shoveling Snow

 

 

Find a shovel that works for you. There are many ergonomic shovels available which can minimize bending and are lightweight.
Wear layers and protective gloves and boots

Perform a warm up and stretching exercises to loosen up muscles
- Take a short walk
- Perform stretching exercises such as arm circles, standing forward bend, standing side bend, and standing trunk rotation

Always position yourself so that you are facing the area which you will be shoveling, as facing to the side would require you to twist or reach excessively

Try to keep your back straight and upright by avoiding twisting and over extending your reach while shoveling in order to minimize stresses on your back

Grip the shovel with your hands apart to distribute the weight and allow for better leverage

Position one leg in front of the other and then reverse your foot position every so often so as to minimize additional strain to one side of the body

Keep your knees slightly bent and move your legs and not your back when turning

Alternate hand positions and the direction you push with the shovel every so often so as to minimize additional strain to one side of the body  
Hold the shovel evenly and close to your body as lifting the snow filled shovel out in front of you will put additional strain on the back
Shovel smaller amounts of snow at a time to keep the load light
Walk to the location which you would like to deposit the snow, rather than reaching or tossing it
Take frequent 10-15 minute breaks
 
Please click here for handout on: Injury Prevention Tips When Shoveling Snow

 

Common Injuries Associated with Raking or Shoveling

The repetitive motion of shoveling and raking can result in stresses on the muscles and joints of the body. Injuries can occur as a result of overuse or from trauma when performing these tasks. Often times, many individuals ignore the warning signs of an injury by working through the pain, tightness or abnormal sensation that they are experiencing. Listed below are some common injuries that can be sustained when raking or shoveling in the back, lower extremities, and upper extremities which are treated by physical therapists. To learn more please click on the condition below:

 

Low Back Strain
Herniated Lumbar Disc/Bulging Disc
Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)
Rotator Cuff Tendonitis (Supraspinatus Tendonitis)
Rhomboid Strain
Hamstring Strain

 

Last revised: November 1, 2008
by Sean Sheerin, PTA


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Please review our terms and conditions carefully before utilization of the Site. The information on this Site is for informational purposes only and should in no way replace a conventional visit to an actual live physical therapist or other healthcare professional. It is recommended that you seek professional and medical advise from your physical therapist or physician prior to any form of self treatment.



 
 
      
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