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Raking Leaves: Back Injury Prevention & Treatment

Posted Oct 15th, 2019 in Preventative Tips, General, Conditions & Treatment

If you're experiencing back pain or injury from raking, our Stittsville physiotherapists offer treatment advice and tips for prevention.

With cool autumn air comes the falling of leaves. Before reaching for your rake and heading outside, learn how to prevent common lower-back injuries by following these tips.

How to Prevent Injury

  • Warm up your muscles by stretching before and after raking.
  • Use the right tools for the job.
  • Maintain proper posture. Keep your back straight and don’t overextend your muscles.
  • Bend at your knees, not your waist.
  • Avoid large or heavy loads, especially when the leaves are wet.
  • Lift properly.
  • Avoid repetitive motions. Raking involves the same repeated movements so try to change your position as you work (but maintain proper posture!).
  • Remember to take breaks.
  • Don’t overdo it - this is especially important if these muscles don’t get regular use.

Sometimes, even if you’re careful about following these prevention tips, you may still injure your back. If that happens, there are things you can do to relieve the pain.

Treating Back Injuries

  • Put ice on the injured area as soon as possible for about 20-30 minutes every 3 hours. Continue for 2-3 days.
  • Apply heat, but only after icing it for 2-3 days. Heat should only be applied after any swelling has gone down.
  • Consult your doctor to see if you should take painkillers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil or Motrin, may reduce your pain and any swelling.
  • In most situations, it’s better to start with some light physical activity, but check with your doctor first. Despite the common belief that you should get bedrest, this could potentially worsen your condition.
  • Massage therapy can work to encourage a faster recovery.
  • Seek physical therapy to promote a healthy rebuilding of muscle strength. Both massage and physical therapy treatments may help you to cope with more severe strains.


It’s important to understand that everyone is different and healing times vary by person and how severe the injury is. It may take a few days for the pain to dissipate with mild strains, and more serious injuries could take several weeks.

Consult your doctor or a physiotherapist about developing a plan for including regular exercise into your routine. Increasing muscle strength is helpful for reducing the likelihood of another injury and will help with recovery as well.

Be sure to not rush into your regular activity levels too early. Chronic or permanent back pain could result if your injuries aren’t fully healed.

Did you injure your back raking leaves?

Give us a call to see how the team at MotionWorks Physiotherapy in Stittsville can help! 

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(613) 831-4054