Raking Fall Leaves

Fall is here and for many that means tidying up the yard and raking the fallen leaves before winter. While getting outside to rake can be a great form of exercise, it is important to prepare your back in advance to make it easier on your body. Follow this guide to prepare your back for the motions of raking leaves and turn down the pain alarm system.

Strategies to turn down the alarm system:

Warm up: Cold, tight muscles are more susceptible to strain. Warming up your body with low-intensity exercises, like your Hinge Health exercises, can help prepare you to take on physically demanding activities like raking leaves. Yard work will have you using multiple muscles in your legs, back, core, shoulders, and arms and warming up will allow you to improve your resilience.

Choose a Lightweight Rake: Rakes come in different materials, shapes and sizes. Be sure to choose a rake that is the appropriate size and weight for your body. Plastic and bamboo rakes tend to be lighter.

Wear Proper Footwear: Supportive and comfortable shoes are a must for physically demanding yard work. Slip resistant soles can help prevent slipping on wet leaves.

Gradually Increase Your Time: While we may have a short window of time in the season to rake leaves, it is best to pace yourself. Try to break up the leaf raking sessions throughout the week with rest days built in, instead of aiming to do the entire yard in one day.

Take Breaks: Every 10-15 minutes, stand up and walk around to avoid being in one position for a long period of time. Sip some water and stay hydrated as you may not feel thirsty due to the colder weather.

Lifting, Bending, and Twisting are not Inherently Dangerous: Raking leaves involves a lot of standing, bending, twisting, and scooping. Keep the rake close to your body to avoid reaching too far and straining your back. Change positions frequently, and avoid scooping too many heavy, wet leaves at a time.

Finish with a Cool Down Stretching Session: Stretching can help increase blood flow to your muscles and ward off stiffness and soreness afterward.

Exercises: In addition to the exercises in the Hinge Health app, here are a couple to focus on as a warm up or cool down to raking leaves.

Lunge with Overhead Reach

  1. Start by standing upright and step the left foot back into a lunge position

  2. Raise the left arm by the ear and slowly tilt the upper body to the right until you feel a stretch along the outside of the body

  3. Hold for 5-10 seconds then switch sides

Repeat 5 times on each side

Standing Straight Leg Raise

  1. While walking with your arms stretched out in front of you, raise up a leg so that your foot reaches knee or hip level as shown

  2. Do not go past your hips

  3. Alternate to the other side as you continue the walking pattern

  4. It’s okay if your knee bends slightly as you bring the leg up

  5. Don’t go past the point of discomfort or round your back to achieve high leg

Repeat 3 times on each leg based on your comfort


  1. Start in a standing position

  2. To begin the squat, keep your weight on your heels and push your hips back. Let your knees bend and lower your buttocks toward the floor

  3. As you go through the squat, keep your chest facing out and don’t allow your knees to collapse inward

  4. Go to a comfortable depth, not going past a 90 degree angle in your knees and then press into your heels and squeeze your buttocks to stand back upright

  5. Use your counter for support if needed

Perform this 10 times in a row, then take a short break (30-60 seconds) and perform a second 10 repetitions