Archive for the ‘injury prevention’ tag
Every season brings unique activities that require us to perform some physical activity we may not want to do but have no choice. As I look outside right now it is snowing here on the eastside and that usually means a bit of shoveling that will need to be done. This seasonal activity is a, “I have to..” activity of daily living (ADLs), rather than ADLs we want to do. Therefore, let’s talk about shoveling snow since that time of year is upon some of us, though hopefully on its way out! Of course, if snow is not an issue based on where you live, this information can also be applied to gardening, digging a hole or some other yard related shoveling activity.
First, a few facts that help us appreciate why back pain is so common when we shovel:
1. When we bend over, approximately 2/3rds of our body weight is being lifted in addition to what we’re lifting. Hence, a 180# person has to lift 120# of body weight every time he or she bends over.
2. A 5# weight equals 50# to our back when it is held out in front of us – consider the 10-20# weight on the end of a shovel!
3) Our legs are much stronger than our back and arms. If a person can bench press 300#, they can usually leg press 500# – almost 2x more weight. Yet, most of us use our arms, not our legs, when shoveling.
4) Most of us bend over using poor technique, lift the shovel with the arms and back (not the legs), and rapidly extend and twist the back when we throw the substance from the shovel – 3 bad things!
5. To make it all worse we do the same things over and over and over again, with bodies that are not in proper shape to be doing the activity in the first place. So, what do you do about it?
One way to prevent injuries, especially to the low back is to avoid the activities that injure it in the first place. For those of us who can’t hire the neighborhood kid to shovel the driveway here are some basic tips. The first fact is, we can’t change the fact that 2/3rds of our body weight is above our waist. What we can change right now is just how much you load up that shovel with snow or dirt. Secondly, always bend down using your strong leg muscles, not your back. This reduces the strain that is put on the back while lifting. Take multiple breaks and switch sides so you don’t “beat up” the same muscle groups repeatedly.
If you do hurt your back – using an analogy of a cut on your skin -avoid picking at the cut so it can heal. If your back starts to hurt after shoveling, take a break, rest, ice, and then do some gentle stretches- DO NOT go back out and start shoveling again! Some wise considerations for shoveling include warming up before starting, staying “in shape” by regular exercise throughout the year, maintaining a good nutritional diet and getting enough sleep.
Its almost that time of year again! Time for the sunshine to come out and for the flowers to start to bloom. This means getting out into the garden, and with that comes gardening injuries. Digging, bending, twisting, and pulling are all vigorous physical activities and they are all a huge part of gardening, and yet we rarly consider gardening a physical activity. “Many people think gardening as an innocuous activity, but it puts the body in positions it hasn’t been in for months-bending, sitting on the ground, stooping, working on all fours,” says Dr. Hancock, DC of Chicago.
We have to start thinking about gardening activities much like we would think about participating is a sporting activity. “To warm up, walk for five to 10 minutes to get your heart rate up While you garden, divide your activity into thirds- (movements affecting the body) below the waist, between the waist and shoulders, and above the shoulders, doing each for 10 to 15 minutes,” he says.
Before and after a gardening project, Kathi Casey, ERYT, CPI, a health coach and trainer practicing in Massachusetts, recommends a complete stretch and flexion of the spine for a minute or two before and after a gardening project. “Sit tall in a straight chair with your feet on the floor. Inhale deeply as you slowly arch your spine; then exhale slowly as you curl. Avoid straining your neck,” she says.
For those of you who are going to take on bigger gardening projects like diging trenches, Debbie Mandel, MA, a fitness and stress management expert and author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman’s 7-Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, recommends undergoing some strength training to prepare. “To strengthen upper extremities, she prefers triceps extensions and wrist curls with dumbbells. To strengthen shoulders for overhead movements, use two dumbbells in a military press and shoulder raises. “Remember to hold your abdominals in tightly to support your back and recruit core strength, and to exhale on exertion,” she adds.
All in all, make sure that you are physically prepared to garden this summer. I have seen far too many gardening injuries and would like you to stay strong and healthy this gardening season.
When you are using a hand truck around your house you will want to make sure that the wheels are not leaving scuff marks. While in a warehouse this is of no concern in your house it is unbecoming to make and leave scuff marks. This is especially true if you are doing a job for somebody else. No one likes an unprofessional job.
Another precaution that is important to take is to ensure that the appliance you are moving, be it a metal appliance or a wooden furniture unit is not damaged by getting scratched by rough contact with the hand truck. Imagine if you are doing a job for someone else, the amount you will owe in damages could be more than the money you made on the whole job.
To prevent the hand truck from scratching the appliance, you will need to obtain some pipe insulation that is made from dense foam rubber. Cut the pipe insulation to the length of the hand truck and cut a slit down the back of it. Slide it over the hand truck rails on either side and secure it with a few pieces of duct tape. You may need to tape it to the hand truck itself, otherwise the tubing will slip out of place when you lift and tilt the appliance onto the hand truck.
Even if you have an expensive appliance truck or hand truck care must still be taken not to damage the surrounding areas. If a sharp object gets stuck in the wheel you can damage an expensive floor unknowingly which can make for a very irate wife or customer! Not really sure which one is worse, but lets try to prevent this by lining the floor with cardboard!
A shorter path is best because when you are moving your hand truck along, the cardboard will shift and slip along the floor. You may have to stop in between to fix the path or get someone else to help you. Another option is to use drop cloth, which creates more friction with the wheels on the hand truck. The problem is that drop cloth is prone to shifting as well and you may get stuck as you go along.
Although because of all these issues you might just thing that it is just easier to move the furniture or appliance by hand, DO NOT MAKE THAT MISTAKE. Doing that can easily cause injuries to your back which is a lot more costly to repair that any appliance or furniture and a lot more painful to boot. So be smart and just use that hand truck wisely!
Moving a lot of appliances? Look into a heavy duty 1200 lb. appliance truck which will work for almost all appliances even the stainless steel ones. If you are ready to spend more money , look into a battery powered stair climbing appliance truck