9 April 2019
Spring = DIY = Injury
As we venture out of hibernation, that list of left over DIY jobs from last year suddenly becomes longer and more urgent, and if you are like most “DIYers”, the tasks you are about to take on will be very different from your normal day to day activity. So it’s important to realise that your body is not use to this kind of activity and just like DIY, without that little bit of preparation and conscious recognition of your own ability and fitness level, DIY enthusiasts will feel done over, spent and broken by the end of their list.
As a keen DIYer myself I have learnt the hard way that by not listening to the protests your body is making leads to injury and an unfinished ever growing to do list. So this article is aimed at helping you prevent and manage potential injuries from DIY.
Much back pain is due to the prolonged stretching of tendons and ligaments in the back. If this strain continues it can lead to a gradual loss of support for your spine and joint wear and tear. Pressure can also increase on the spinal nerves and cause pain elsewhere.
The result is often mild injury, such as an ache in the lower back.
Many people believe that the aches from DIY are temporary and they will resolve once the job is finished. It is never a good idea to work through an ache, it is a sign that something in the body is upset. Whether you are painting a ceiling with stiffness in the neck or jet spraying the patio with a “niggle” in the low back. If you continue to aggravate the injury then further damage can occur to the soft tissue structures that may lead to sharper pains and possibly muscle spasm.
This is when I usually see people in clinic who are struggling to move because their back or neck has ”locked up”. So whilst we are always available to help ease the pain and spasm, Osteopaths would much prefer that patients try to prevent an injury as much as possible.
So you can enjoy the process of improving your home and the results of your hard work, here are some simple tips to avoid injury:
Always lift heavy items with caution. Approach them slowly, get a firm grip, bend your knees and keep your back straight, take the weight with your legs and not with your lower back. Always keep the load close to your body and try not to pivot on your legs but turn your whole body. If you have to move heavy loads, either get help, use a wheelbarrow or a trolley.
Kneeling on one leg is much better than bending down repeatedly from the hips. But if you suffer from knee problems or osteoarthritis always use a cushion to kneel on.
Set your workbench at a level that allows you to work without bending forward from the hips. Take a break from prolonged periods of standing by varying your tasks.
However anxious you are to get the job done, taking a break gives your muscles, ligaments and joints a rest, allowing you to carry on for a little longer.
If you wake up the next day in pain, you must rest and recuperate!
Should the pain persist, consult your osteopath and they will advise whether you should apply heat or ice packs to the injured area.
Be sensible. Take simple precautions and do not work beyond your capacity. If you exercise and keep fit, you will be in much better shape for tackling all those DIY jobs.