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Fall Workout: Rake Some Leaves

If you have a yard and a tree, chances are high you will be spending some quality time this fall with a rake and your front lawn.

Raking leaves is not only necessary for keeping your grass alive, but the dried leaves are great to use as aeration in your compost pile or bin. As if that's not enough, it's also a great way to get some fresh air and exercise.

An hour of raking leaves burns about 290 calories. This is awesome, but it's tough work your muscles aren't used to doing. That means you can end up being completely sore the next day, in places you never knew existed. Since your body is not used to doing this type of motion, you could even risk throwing out your back.

Want to hear some tips for preventing strained muscles and next day soreness? Then

  • To prevent sore arms and an aching lower back the next day, be sure to stretch your arms, shoulders, hamstrings, and back before and after grabbing a rake. Wide Squat will stretch your hips and lower back, and Gate will stretch the sides of your body and your hamstrings. You can even use the rake to help you stretch. Do a Wide-Legged Forward Bend, and instead of holding your feet, hold onto a rake behind you. This will give the backs of your legs, lower back, and shoulders a killer stretch.
  • While you're raking, make sure to switch which arm is dominating so you work the muscles on both sides of your body equally. Switch sides often to prevent overworking a certain group of muscles.
  • Also be conscious every time you lean over to pick up piles of leaves to put in the brown bags. Use your very best squatting technique and bend your knees, don't round your back. This will seriously reduce the strain on your lower back while working out your legs. Try to bend at the knees to reduce the strain on your lower back.
  • There's nothing wrong with taking breaks often. Use your breaks to drink water and stretch your muscles.
  • Don't do too much. No one said you had to rake all 3 acres of your lawn in one day. Break it up over a few days, or better yet, get a friend to help.
  • After an afternoon of raking, take a nice hot shower or bath to loosen up your muscles. You can even do these shower stretches in the water. They feel amazing when your muscles are all warmed up.
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