As the majority of us have been encouraged to stay at home for the foreseeable future, if you are anything like me you have already created a list in your head of DIY jobs that could be done during this time.
- Spring Cleaning
- Painting and other decorating
- Repairing things around the house
- Getting the garden ready to enjoy in Summer!
I spent most of the weekend cutting the grass and trimming hedges (with the help of my two children). From all the repetitive bending and picking up of the hedge cuttings I am certainly aware today that I have done a big workout on my back!
This got me thinking, how can we at Summit advise you to keep yourself as injury free as possible when you are doing these repetitive tasks – especially if these tasks are not normally part of your daily routine.
So here are our top tips:
- Warm up – some basic range of movement exercises will warm up the muscles and lubricate the joints ready for the increased activity level. This could be things like shoulder circles, neck circles, standing up and sitting down repeatedly off a chair and twisting your head and upper back to each side whilst sat down.
- Take breaks and build the intensity up gradually – start with 30 minutes, then 60 mins, then 1.5 hours day by day or if you have a long DIY list you may choose to do 60 mins of one DIY job in the morning and 60 mins of another DIY job in the afternoon.
- If the task is low down/floor level then sit on a stool or kneel on a cushion/pad.
- When bending or lifting, make sure you bend from the knees and hips, keeping your back straight. To straighten back up again, push your feet into the floor and drive your hips forwards as you straighten the knees. Keep the object close to your body.
- If you struggle to bend the knees which is often the case for people with severe knee Osteoarthritis, try and use long handled tools. However, if you have the range of movement and wish to reduce the load you are manoeuvring/lifting then smaller tools will be easier.
- Try to avoid bending or lifting with a twisting movement – this is the most common mechanism of lower back injury we see in clinic. It might take you longer to complete the task, but it would be a lot safer to lift the object as described above and then turn your feet to face the direction you need to go instead of twisting through the back. We try and educate our patients to use the upper back to twist and keep the pelvis stacked on top of the hips.
- Do not lift something that is too heavy – get help!
- Use ladders and steps as much as possible when performing overhead tasks. Repetitive overhead movement can lead to shoulder issues like Rotator Cuff injury. Can you swap arms part way through?
- When using ladders, make sure they are stable and in a safe place. Ideally with someone else to steady the bottom step whilst you’re using them.
- Keep hydrated! Some DIY and gardening tasks are more energetic than others but its all exercise that is burning calories and using energy so keeping your fluid intake up is important.
If you do find yourself struggling with pain or other symptoms after DIY or gardening then please contact our Summit Team. One of our Clinicians will call you when is an appropriate time for you to help you further.
Or call us on 0800 731 2738