North York is lucky to have beautiful trees, but with abundant beautiful trees comes lots of raking. The Physiotherapists in our North York clinic regularly see patients who have developed low back pain after cleaning up their yards.

1) Avoid raking first thing in the morning.

In the first couple of hours after you wake up you are at higher risk for disc herniations. To reduce your risk avoid doing any activity that involves repetitive forward bending and lifting at this time. Instead take a walk and get your spine moving. After a long night’s rest, it can take a while to get your spine’s range of motion back to normal. You can speed this process up by doing some stretches (click here) that are prescribed by one of our Physiotherapists, or you can take a brisk walk until your back is feeling great.

2) Mix it up

Most people choose to rake all of their leaves into just a few piles and then spend the rest of their time on the tedious task of bending and bagging! Instead, create small piles and bag them intermittently. This will break up the bending and lifting that you need to do with standing and walking, greatly reducing your chances of developing low back pain.

3) Backward bends

A simple standing or Lying backward bend (click here) stretch repeated 5-10 times can help prevent low back pain. Do this before you start raking and occasionally throughout the chore. Be sure to bend back as far as you can on each repetition to get the maximum effect.

4) Small loads

Often the patients we see come in telling a tale of moving a heavy yard waste bag. We recommend that you fill each bag 3/4 of the way. This will help reduce the likelihood of back pain in two ways. The load you will be lifting to the curb is smaller, and the top of the bag will serve as a good handle to manage the weight.

5) Use a blower

Consider a leaf blower a sound investment in your spinal health. These tools decrease your chances of developing back pain in three ways. First, you are able to stand taller while using a leaf blower. Second, you are moving around and walking more briskly then when you are raking. Third, the entire duration of the job is reduced greatly.


Inevitably we will see several North York residents booking a Physiotherapy assessment in the coming weeks who have developed low back pain after raking. If you are one of them not to worry, our Physiotherapists will have you back to normal in no time. Those of you who are proactive and follow the tips outlined above will complete your fall chores with no trouble at all.

Book your appointment here.