ENJOYING HOME IMPROVEMENT WITHOUT COMPROMISING YOUR BACKFeb 05, 2005 01:55PM ● By Don Kindred
by Dr. Bradley Shapero
Winter is almost over and the sun is shinning. Time to take that list of fix its, improvements and cleaning out of the desk and get busy. It is very rewarding to complete a project and enjoy the finished product knowing you did it, but is important to know how to get the most out of home repair without breaking yourself in the process.
Where to start, the yard, the garage, painting, or fixing that leaky sink? Getting organized will not only cut down on time but will decrease stress.
Next, be sure to include getting your body ready. Once you’ve rolled out of bed and reviewed your list, do some stretching that includes all areas of the body. If you are already a little stiff then a warm shower is a great way to limber up before stretching. After stretching, lightly exercise to get the body ready for the work you are about to embark on.
Cool down slightly and be sure to have a nutritious breakfast. This will not only be good for your body and energy level; it is crucial in reducing mental stress and aggravation. A well-fed brain thinks clearer and makes fewer errors in judgment.
Depending on what you are doing, add periodic stretches throughout the day. If painting stretch the upper body and legs. If the next item is an under the sink repair, stretch the neck for a couple of minutes and stretch periodically while in awkward positions to reduce the irritation on your body. When lifting, as in organizing the garage, then every few lifts do a touch your toes stretch to reduce tension in the lower back and legs. While planting and pruning, periodic stretching will prevent staying in prolonged positions that can stiffen the body.
It is easy to get caught up in a project for hours. To keep the body working better, have snacks already prepared and readily available. Most importantly have water at hand -dehydration can sneak up you. Frequent episodes of dehydration can cause difficulty in the body eliminating waste. This can lead to achy joints, fatigue, headaches, constipation and kidney stones. In addition, as the temperature outside rises, so does the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. While working with paints, fertilizers, cleaners and other chemicals keeping the body well hydrated will assist in the elimination of toxins in the body.
A few simple tips: using a light tool belt can prevent the frequent ups and downs on ladders or frequent bending over. Put tools where they are convenient to reach. If working under a sink get a hand towel and fold it under your head so your head and neck can rest if performing tedious prolonged work. Wear comfortable shoes. We usually don’t realize this until it is too late. Be sure the shoes breathe and are flexible with good shock absorption to relieve stress on the spine during periods of prolonged standing.
So, you’ve done your preparation, or maybe not all, and are in the middle of project. The primer coat is on, the hole for that fruit tree is almost deep enough, or you have just pulled the tank off that leaky toilet. You make another small movement and like a bolt of lightning, the thought ricochets through your head … oh no, that didn’t feel right Your lower back stiffens or worse locks in a painful position. Maybe it was the neck and shoulder area.
Now what to do. The first thing is to quickly find a place to lie down. Once in the prone position let the painful area rest for a moment or two. Then gently stretch the area. If it’s the lower back bring one bent leg to the chest and then the other. If it’s the neck, turn the head from one side to the other keeping it supported by the surface you are lying on. As soon as possible put some ice on it for 10-15 minutes. Then use ice for 20-30 minutes with a five-minute break between applications. If the pain subsides and is fine after stretching and rest for 24 hours, you most likely had a simple strain. If the pain persists longer than a day, even when abated by pain relievers, you should see your family chiropractor to evaluate what happened. Having a problem in the body remedied quickly at the first sign of trouble is both smart and cost effective. Just as it is with a home repair, the longer you wait the worse it can get and the more complex the repair.
The best way to avoid a problem is to keep yourself working well with periodic maintenance. b