It's been an exciting winter so far, here in Michigan...19 degree days followed by 61 degree days. It not only wreaks havoc on our daily wardrobe choices, but also on our activity levels. Monday has us snuggled up with a cup of cocoa, reading a nice book and Tuesday has us outside on a ladder cleaning out gutters. It's easy in all our enthusiasm to overdo things, potentially getting ourselves a bit exhausted.
We all get that "Spring cleaning" bug and it's easy when the day is so sunny and warm to want to do it all at once, but we must remember that our bodies aren't used to that. It's very easy to develop injuries from overexertion while doing common activities like lifting, and pushing and pulling. These kinds of injuries, along with accidental slips, trips and falls can result in sprains, strains, hernias and lower back pain. Repetitive movements, spending long time periods reaching overhead, or bending at the waist can cause a variety of painful issues in the body.
There are always a few ways you can approach it. An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure.
Warm-up! Before beginning any serious physical work, begin with some trunk forward and backward bending, arm circles and gentle leg stretching. Walk for a few minutes to promote circulation. 10 minutes of total warm-up should be sufficient to prevent strains and soreness later.
Maintain good posture. Try to keep a wide stance when standing for long periods of time or doing arm-extending work like raking or sweeping. Stand up straight and move your arms together. This will make pushing and pulling motions easier.
Avoid twisting. Use your legs to shift your weight side-to-side instead both while raking, sweeping or bending to pick up anything.
Lift properly. Always bend your knees and use your legs to lift your body up. Use large muscle groups to lower your body towards the ground by hinging at the knees. Instead of reaching forward to move a heavy object, walk to it, get close and lift it straight up off the ground by bending your knees and keeping your spine upright. Don’t lift with your back.
Avoid excessive bending over. Kneeling is always better than bending over for long periods. Try knee pads to protect your knees from soreness.
Wear proper shoes. Skid resistant soles ensure good footing on uneven ground.
Pace yourself and hydrate! Take breaks and stretch if any muscles seem to tighten up as you clean. Pace yourself and do what you can without over doing it. There is always tomorrow.
Cool down. When you're done working, do some more stretching to help relax tense muscles. You can even take a hot bath with Epsom salts and essential oils.
Don’t overdo it! Alternate tasks to prevent overuse of any one muscle group. Space out gardening tasks over several days.
Listen to your body! Soreness is common following serious physical work. But the soreness you feel should go away about 24-48 hours after your workout.
If your soreness doesn't dissipate in that timeframe, or if you feel you have pulled, strained or damaged anything in your exuberance, come see us for some therapeutic massage, craniosacral therapy or any of our other highly effective and relaxing therapies. We will get you back on track and ready for that next round of cleaning!