Enjoying Fall Foliage
Around the end of September, autumn colors start to appear throughout New England. It’s such a beautiful time of year as the foliage turns from green to vibrant reds and golds. Make it a point to get out and enjoy the warm fall colors in the cool crisp air. While Darien is a beautiful place to see the leaves change, tripsavvy.com lists the 8 Best Places to View Fall Foliage in Connecticut. It does not get much prettier than changing foliage in New England, so get outside and take advantage of your surroundings!
If only the colorful leaves would stay put instead of falling to the ground! For most people living in homes with tree-filled yards, raking is a chore that can quickly become tiresome, monotonous, and even painful. If not done with care and caution, raking can easily cause injuries.
Raking is an activity that demands a lot from the body. Not only does it require significant exertion but it uses almost every muscle group of the body. When you rake, you are constantly reaching, twisting, bending, and lifting. As we age, raking can take an even greater toll on our bodies.
There are always going to be some uncomfortable aches and pains after raking, but there are precautions we can take to avoid straining or injuring ourselves.
Leaf Raking Tips
Get your doctor’s okay. It’s always a good idea to ask for your doctor’s recommendations when considering any physical activity that’s not part of your normal daily routine.
Get the right rake. Rakes are not all alike. Your old rake may not be as efficient or ergonomic as a new one. Find a lightweight rake in a size that feels right to you and is comfortable to use.
Decide when to rake. It’s a good idea to wait until all of the leaves have fallen to begin raking. Raking too soon in the season may be a wasted effort. If there are more leaves on the trees, then more leaves will fall! Choose a day to rake that is not windy and when the leaves are dry.
Start out with a plan. Be organized in your raking to get the most accomplished. Consider using a tarp. Lay out the tarp, or other large piece of material, on the ground and rake the leaves onto it. Rake one area of your yard until the tarp is full, then drag the tarp to your main pile. If you prefer, you can also rake your leaves directly into bags.
Always warm up before using your rake. Give yourself a few minutes to stretch out your muscles before you start raking. This will loosen you up and prepare your body for the task.
Wear shoes and clothing that are appropriate for raking. Sturdy, comfortable, closed toe shoes with skid-resistant soles are best for raking because they can help keep you from slipping or falling. Wear long sleeves and pants for protection, and of course a jacket and hat if the weather is cold.
Protect your hands with gloves. Find a pair of gardening gloves that provide protection for hands, fingers, and wrists. They will help prevent blisters from long hours of raking as well as injuries from twigs and other items that may end up in your leaves.
Position your body properly. Repetitive movements are bound to cause discomfort and strain. When you hold the rake, grasp it with both hands and change your hand positions now and then as you rake. Also, every so often, switch the side of your body you are using as you rake. Keep your knees slightly bent and don’t bend too far forward at the waist. It is helpful to move backwards as you rake, raking the leaves towards you as you walk backwards.
Be careful bending and lifting. Never try to lift anything you are not absolutely sure you can pick up safely and comfortably. When picking up leaves or other items, always bend at the knees rather than from the waist and keep your back as straight as possible.
If you need help with leaf raking this fall, please call At Home In Darien at 203.655.2227. If you are interested in having volunteer assistance, we ask that you fill out an application as soon as possible. We can also recommend someone you can hire to rake your leaves.