Do It Yourself (DIY) renovations and repairs are a great way to save money and improve your home. For many people, DIY projects become a hobby and they begin to find the entire process extremely rewarding.
Although there are many advantages to becoming a DIY guru, there is also some risk involved. Many of the people visiting City Chiropractic Clinic in Stoke on Trent are there because of DIY-related injuries. That’s because it is very easy to have an accident or suffer from a repetitive strain injury while performing some DIY renovations or repairs.
If you are a keen DIYer or a novice, our Stoke chiropractor offers great tips which can help keep you safe. These tips will help you maintain good back health and reduce the risk of an injury occurring.
Back Safe DIY Advice From Our Stoke Chiropractor
Dress For The Job
Before you begin your DIY project, check that you are correctly dressed. Wear comfortable clothing that provides you with plenty of freedom of movement. You should also use protective footwear that is comfortable and the right size for your feet. Yes, it sounds like common sense, but a remarkable number of DIY injuries are caused by people working in the wrong type of footwear.
Stretch Before Starting
Before jumping into your project, spend a few minutes stretching. This will loosen up your body’s joints and muscles, preparing you for the job ahead. Check out this short video for a few effective stretches and warmup exercises
Learn To Lift And Carry Objects Safely
DIY renovations and home improvements often involve carrying heavy objects like bags of cement, rocks, timber and tools. Failure to lift and carry these objects correctly can lead to back injuries. Here are a few important tips for lifting and carrying heavy objects.
To safely lift a heavy object:
- Assess the weight of the object. It may be too heavy for a single person to safely lift. If it is too heavy, get some help.
- Determine where the object will go. There may be items you need to move out of the way before you lift the object. Be sure to remove any trip hazards along the route.
- Stand close to the object with your feet, hips, and shoulders facing towards it
- Keep a straight back as you bend your knees and lower yourself towards the object
- Grab the object with two hands and ensure its weight is evenly distributed between your hands. If the object has handles, use them.
- Straighten your legs to lift yourself up, keeping your arms bent.
- Hold the object at chest/abdomen level
- Do your best to maintain the natural curve of the spine throughout the process. Let the legs do most of the work.
To carry a heavy object:
- Hold the object at chest/abdomen height.
- Take small steps and walk slowly towards your destination.
- If you need to change direction, use your feet instead of twisting your torso.
- Bend at the knees as you set the object down.
Avoid Lifting Altogether When Possible
Here are a few techniques you can use to avoid lifting heavy items altogether:
- Use wheelbarrows or trolleys to cart heavy loads
- Break up heavy loads into multiple parts. Instead of carrying a large piece of lumber, cut it into the sizes you need, then carry smaller pieces
- Transport light items to heavy items. eg. instead of carrying a bag of cement to a plastic mixing bucket, carry the plastic mixing bucket to the cement.
- Get heavy items delivered to the location where they will be used
- Buy items in smaller bags
- Ask for help when moving heavy items.
Avoid Twisting Movements
We often see patients at our chiropractic clinic in Stoke on Trent with nerve irritation or sore muscles from performing twisting actions repetitively during their DIY projects.
These kinds of injuries often occur when a person is on a ladder. The DIY-er will twist their body to reach a section of wall that is adjacent to the ladder instead of moving the ladder. Twisting injuries are also more likely to occur when a person is holding a heavy weight.
Fortunately, avoiding this type of injury is simple. If you are using a ladder, get into the habit of moving it frequently so your hips, shoulders, and knees are all facing toward the work surface. If you are painting, use a plank between two ladders, so you can move laterally as you paint the wall and avoid twisting altogether.
Avoid Working With Stretched Arms For Long Periods
Reaching up to work on elevated surfaces is another common source of injury which sends many people to our chiropractor in Stoke on Trent each year. Working in this way can quickly place strain on the muscles and joints in the lower back and neck.
The kinds of DIY jobs that force a person to reach upwards for long periods include painting ceilings, installing plasterboard, and fixing light fittings. To avoid stretching injuries:
- Use a good ladder or plank to get very close to the ceiling
- Use a long handle so you can hold your arms at chest
- Lay down or sit on an elevated platform
Take Regular Breaks
Avoid working for longer than 25-30 minutes without taking a minute or two to stretch and rest your back. If you are working in a particularly uncomfortable or awkward position, have breaks even more frequently.
Ideally, switch up activities so you are often changing the way your body is positioned. Be very careful when working on a highly repetitive task, as that it more likely to cause a muscle overuse injury, joint injury, or sprain.
Be Particularly Careful When Using Ladders
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), falls from ladders account for a third of all workplace injuries.
The most common causes of ladder fall accidents are:
- Ladders slipping or falling because the user overreached
- Ladders moving because they are not secured properly
- Poorly maintained ladders which are slippery or wobbly causing a fall
It’s important to take a very methodical and analytical approach to DIY projects. Avoid rushing into the project without a plan or proper safety precautions, as you are more likely to injure yourself.
If you are already experiencing back problems caused by a recent DIY session, call our leading chiropractic clinic in Stoke on Trent, City Chiropractic, on 01782 848 184 or you can book online at our website here.
Take your first step towards better health and call us on 01782 848 184 today
From the team at City Chiropractic Clinic
Our Chiropractors in Stoke on Trent are here to help you