PhotoBeen meaning to corral and remove the fallen leaves from your yard? Before you pick up your rake, consider the fact that yard work can cause upper or lower back strain, neck strain, and pain in the shoulders.

Luckily, you can prevent these painful consequences by making sure you know the proper way to do yard maintenance tasks such as raking, mowing, or leaf blowing. The first step to preventing yard work-related pains and strains is to make sure your body is warmed up and ready to work.

A body that isn’t prepared to twist, turn, and bend as you complete yard work may be at an increased risk for injury, says the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). To warm up, stretch gently and smoothly while breathing in and out slowly.

Here’s what else homeowners should do before stepping out to beautify their yard, according to the ACA.

Dress appropriately

Donning certain accoutrements can help ensure that you won’t be left with back pain, blisters, or other ailments after doing yard work.

Not only will wearing the right shoes make the task at hand more comfortable, it can reduce your risk of being affected by back pain later. The ACA recommends wearing shoes with good foot and arch support.

To keep blisters at bay, try wearing gloves while raking or operating yard equipment. If you have allergies or asthma, consider wearing a mask while you’re outside. Finally, be sure to drink lots of water before heading out.

Use the right stance

Standing as straight as possible and keeping your head up as your rake or mow is crucial to preventing back and neck strain. In addition, ACA says homeowners with yard work on their to-do list should make sure they know how to use yard equipment properly.

When raking, you’ll want to use a “scissors” stance. This involves putting your right foot forward and left food back for a few minutes. Then, change it up by putting your left foot forward and right foot back.

When bagging leaves or picking up yard equipment, bend at the knees. You can also prevent back pain by using the strap on your equipment. Placing the strap over your head on the shoulder opposite the side of your body from the device can help normalize your center of gravity. 

Make sure to balance the muscles being used, alternate your stance, and switch the side on which you’re operating the equipment from time to time. Once you've completed your yard work, do a few cool down stretches and be sure to drink plenty of water. 

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