Longer days mean we start thinking about the DIY jobs that have built up over the winter.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), 3900 people are treated in hospital every week as a result of DIY related injuries! Don’t be one of those people!
Here are some simple guidelines to help ensure that improving your home does not become a pain in the back!
Back pain and neck pain are usually caused by the unaccustomed and prolonged stretching of tendons and ligaments of the spine. If this strain continues it can lead to a gradual loss of support to the spine and joint wear and tear. Pressure can also increase on the spinal nerves and cause pain elsewhere.
DO NOT work through back or neck pain. If you continue, further damage can occur to the soft tissue structures which may cause sharper pains. The body’s response to this is to ‘lock’ the affected area by causing the muscles in that region to go into spasm.
- Prevention is better than cure – general fitness is key when tackling jobs around the house.
- If you aren’t used to heavy tasks then you’ve got an increased chance of getting injured.
- Call a professional where necessary.
- Eliminate hazards which could lead to tripping, slipping and falls – such as loose carpets and wires.
Leave enough time for jobs
- Don’t rush to finish; try and spread tasks over a few days.
- Pace yourself and work in manageable chunks.
Wear comfortable clothing
- Make sure you can move around easily.
- Keep knees covered for jobs that require kneeling.
- Wear sturdy shoes to protect and support your feet.
Use comfortable tools
- Use lightweight, long-handled tools – which can reduce the need to bend over.
- Check you can cope with the length and weight of power tools.
- Use a kneeling pad when kneeling on hard surfaces to avoid sore knees.
- Use extension poles for rollers to reach further without straining and compromising safety.
- Boxes and cases should be on a high surface or table not on the floor.
- Bend knees, keep the back straight, with the item close to you when lifting or lowering.
- Carry manageable and balanced loads.
- Pack heavy items in a small box and mark heavy.
- Avoid moving heavy furniture on your own – get someone to help you.
- Bend your knees and push items rather than pull.
- Use a non-friction surface under the item to assist in movement.
Add variety and breaks
- Switch jobs every 10-20 minutes so that you can use different muscles.
- Be ambidextrous – change sides so that both can be exercised in equal amounts.
- Rest intermittently as repeated movements could lead to repetitive strain injury.
Cool down exercises after DIY tasks
- Upon completion of DIY, muscles are still warm and flexible. Stretch to avoid stiffness.
- Go for a walk or swim to help ward off muscle soreness.
Adopt a comfortable posture during tasks to avoid unnecessary muscle strain. Here are four main positions that need careful consideration in terms of deciding which posture is best to adopt:
- Low lying
Lie on the ground on either side, or on your back or front to tackle tasks at floor level.
Plan your DIY work and take short breaks during the task to help reduce the likelihood of injury.
Kneel on the floor on soft or hard surfaces for tasks at waist level.
Avoid bending too far forward as this will strain the back.
Get up and walk about regularly to avoid cramping and to restore circulation.
Stand up for tasks at chest or head level.
Avoid twisting and bending.
Stand up for high level tasks which may require stretching your arm(s) in order to reach.
Use a ladder for hard to reach places. Keep the ladders upright and secure.
If possible, use extension poles.
If you do injure yourself:
Rest – the injured part as much as possible to allow the healing of damaged tissues.
Ice – Apply cold therapy for up to 10 minutes as soon after the injury as possible – do not wait for the swelling to start. This may be repeated every 2 hours during the first two days after injury.
Compression – If possible apply a compression bandage to minimise the swelling to the tissues.
Elevation – Elevate the injured part to limit blood flow and prevent the use of muscles.
REMEMBER, PAIN IS A WARNING SIGN – DO NOT IGNORE IT – Give us a call at the Avenue Clinic if you have any questions at all.