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September 23, 2013

Rake Safely: Tips for an Injury-free Fall Cleanup

Orthopaedic surgeons provide leaf raking safety tips

Rosemont, Ill.- Leaf raking. It’s a necessary part of fall clean-up and yet, if not done carefully, the
bending, twisting, pulling and reaching motions required to clear your lawn’s carpet of foliage can result
in achy, pulled or even torn muscles. 
As more than 38,000 Americans were injured in raking-related injuries in 2012, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), theAmerican Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) wants Americans to prepare their yards for winter, while minimizing the risk of injury.

“If done properly, leaf raking provides a great opportunity for outdoor exercise during a beautiful time of year,” said orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Raymond B. Raven, MD.  “However, if you have not exercised your shoulder, arm and neck muscles for some time, you can be seriously injured. Raking is vigorous exercise. At the very least, you should warm-up your muscles for at least 10 minutes with stretching before you pick up a rake.  In addition, be sure to wear gloves while working in the yard and in the garden.  Serious injuries and infections can easily be prevented.”
In addition, AAOS recommends that you:
  • Keep a straight back and turn your whole body while you rake to avoid twisting your back. Useyour legs to shift your weight instead of your back, and avoid throwing a bag of leaves over the shoulder or to the side as this twisting motion also can strain the back.
  • Use short strokes instead of long ones to cut down the risk of over extension injuries.
  • Vary your movements so you can avoid excessive stress on one muscle group.
  • Bend at the knees and squat rather than at the waist to pick up your heavy piles of leaves and when lifting garbage bags or bins.
  • Make sure your rake is the proper height and weight for you. If it’s too short, you could strain your back, and if it’s too heavy it will put added strain on your neck and shoulders.
  • Wear gloves or use rakes with padded handles to prevent blisters.
  • Keep your vision free of impediment and wear shoes with slip-resistant soles.
  • Start slowly and pace yourself. You don’t want to overexert yourself, especially if you have a lot more leaves to rake!


A Nation in Motion

More than one in four Americans have bone or joint health problems, making them the greatest cause of lost work days in the U.S. When orthopaedic surgeonsrestore mobility and reduce pain, they help people get back to work and to independent, productive lives. Orthopaedic surgeons provide a great value, in both human and economic terms; and access to high-quality orthopaedic care keeps this “nation in motion.” To learn more, to read hundreds of patient stories or to submit your own story, visit

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