OPTI’s Tips for Injury Free Spring Cleaning and Gardening

As spring arrives and sunshine beckons us outside, many of us enjoy refreshing our homes and gardens for the good weather ahead. Spring cleaning and gardening are not only great for your home, but a good way to get your body moving as well. Your physical therapist team at OPTI has some tips to keep your body in tip-top shape while spring cleaning and gardening so you can head into summer in full health!

Spring Cleaning:

            We all want to enjoy the fruits of our spring cleaning labor instead of being laid up with an injury. Believe it or not, as physical therapists we often treat patients who were injured during every day tasks. When spring cleaning, there are some simple practices you can put into place to protect your body from injury:

  • Treat your body as if you were exercising, because you are! This includes warming up your muscles before starting your task to avoid straining them, wearing proper footwear, and staying hydrated and well fed.
  • Create a system that utilizes your time and strength well. For instance, have what you need on hand instead of having to make multiple unnecessary trips up and down the stairs to grab supplies.
  • Use the right tools to get the job done injury free. Instead of standing on furniture or a chair, use a ladder. Use a duster with a long handle to reach high, or a mop or broom with the perfect handle length for you to avoid bending over in uncomfortable positions for long periods of time.

Gardening and Yard Work:

            Often gardeners find themselves with sore or injured knees after working on a yard project. A lot of garden and yard work is down low, which means squatting or kneeling for long periods of time, as well as getting up and down from those positions. Here are some tips to protect your knees and body while sprucing up your yard:

  • Have the right tools on hand. Using a kneeling pad can make all the difference in the world when it comes to protecting your knees. Keep the tools you are using close by to lessen the amount of times you have to get up and down, or twist to find those missing shears.
  • Make sure tools like the lawn mower, rakes, or shovels are the appropriate length and size for you to avoid having to bend over to use them.
  • When digging a hole with a shovel, use your weight to dig instead of trying to force the shovel with your back or arms. When moving dirt, use smaller loads on the shovel and avoid twisting: move your whole body to put the dirt aside.

Lifting heavy objects:

If you find yourself lifting heavy objects when spring-cleaning or gardening, there are some easy ways to prevent injury. To begin, ensure the object you are lifting is not too heavy. It is always infinitely better to ask for or wait for help than injure your back. To lift a heavy object safely:

  • Start with your feet hip width apart. Feet too close together or far apart will affect balance as well as the ability to safely distribute the weight you are lifting. 
  • Bend at the knees and hips, instead of the back when lifting heavy objects. To avoid lifting with your back, do not lean over and object or twist to lift it. Instead, while close to the object, bend your legs to squat down and pick up the object, then lift straight up with your legs.

Our physical therapy team at OPTI is passionate about helping our patients get back to and maintain a high quality of life. This means helping our patients train their bodies to be able to do what they love: whether that is gardening, chasing around grandkids, or getting back on the field to play the sport they love. To schedule an appointment to see one of our physical therapists, call us today at (208)966-4476.

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