Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Gold among the brown,
Leaves of rust and scarlet,
Trembling slowly down.
Birds that travel southward,
Lovely time to play,
Nothing is as pleasant,
As a lovely autumn day!
---Carmen Lagos Signes
In many parts of the country, raking leaves is a necessity during the fall months. Both for those unaccustomed to physical activity and regular exercisers, the dynamics of raking can lead to strain and injury to the back, shoulders, and wrists, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that over 76,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors' offices, clinics and other medical settings for injuries related to non-powered garden tools, including rakes in 2006. Raking requires a number of different activities, including twisting, bending, lifting, and reaching, that utilize several different muscle groups. Improper use of lawn tools along with the potential for tool-related accidents further compounds the risk of injury to the bones and muscles.
You can ease the strain and pain of raking -- fall's most taxing task by taking the following precautions to minimize your risk of sustaining an injury: