Physical Preparation for Decoration
Photo by Stephanie Wallace
The time crunch for Holiday decorating both inside and out is officially on. As you may have hopes and aspirations of early preparations, the fact remains that there is a lot of work to do. Not to mention heavy lifting, repeated overhead reaching and lots of bending.
Injuries resulting from overexertion while lifting, pushing and pulling, are among the most frequent types of injury in the home. These kinds of injuries, along with accidental slips, trips and falls can result in sprains, strains, hernias and lower back pain. In order to avoid these common injuries, preparation for your tasks and planning for safety is most useful.
Here are some useful tips that may help you complete your chore of Holiday decorating safely and free of injury: Be sure to Warm-up! Holiday decorating forces you to use virtually every muscle in the human body. Warm muscles work more efficiently and are less likely to be injured. Before decorating begins, take 10 minutes to warm-up by walking or marching in place to promote circulation. Begin with some trunk forward and backward bending, arm circles and gentle leg stretching.
Wearing the appropriate footwear that has sufficient tread allowing you to maintain your grasp to the surface beneath you is best. Sudden slips and loss of balance may lead to severe strains in the lower back and extremities. Plan ahead and arrange your home or yard properly allowing yourself the room you need to maneuver without having to twist, turn and lift unnecessarily.
Repeated lifting is probably the most frequent maneuver you’ll have to complete so be diligent and use proper mechanics.
- Keep your feet slightly wider that shoulder width apart for greater stability and lifting power.
- Get close to the object you are lifting, almost straddling it.
- Keep your back straight and abdominal muscles tight to keep the spine in correct alignment. This will minimize the chance of a hernia.
- Tuck your chin to keep the neck, head, and spine straight.
- Grip the object with the whole hand for more lifting power.
- Keep arms and elbows tucked in for more gripping power.
- Center your body over your feet for balance and lifting power.
- Use your legs and lift the object by straightening them. Using your leg muscles minimize the stress on your lower back thus reducing your risk of injury
- Lower the load in reverse.
- Get help if the load is too great
Keep in mind:
- Slide heavy objects or decoration materials if possible rather than attempting to lift and carry them. Pushing the object is safer than pulling it to the desired location. Using rollers and wheelbarrows can make the job easier yet.
- Storing materials at least 12 inches off the ground whenever possible minimizes the danger of overexertion when lifting from the ground.
- Avoid lifting in a situation where the body will be twisted.
- Avoid jerking or erratic motions.
- Never try to catch heavy falling objects.
Take frequent breaks. Stand up straight and walk around periodically to extend the lower back. Standing extension exercises will help reverse the excessive forward bending that occurs while working: Stand straight and tall, place your hands toward the back of your hips and bend backwards slightly for several seconds. Repeat as often as needed. When reaching to higher areas throughout the home, getting yourself physically closer to the final resting place of the decoration is preferred. Proper use of a ladder or step stool can minimize risk of injury to your neck, shoulders and back. However, if you choose to use a ladder, be sure to use the proper ladder suited for the job you plan to do.
Additionally, poor physical condition, poor posture, lack of exercise, and excessive body weight contribute to the number and severity of sprains and strains. So do your best to take good care of yourself throughout the year.
Prevention of an injury is much easier than repairing one. Listen to your body! Stop if you feel pain and consult your physician if necessary.