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By: Lynn Hewette, PT
We all have been there — that moment when we realize that our situation is less than perfect, but inaction is not an option. While this can apply to many of life’s difficult situations, it also applies to the challenges of movement and exertion in the things we do every day.
Perhaps you are dealing with some spring cleaning in your own garage, or tackling that purge of the attic. Perhaps you are a clinician assisting in a patient’s room that is crowded with equipment and furniture. Even a simple task can become risky business if you find yourself in awkward position and cannot move as freely as needed. Following a few simple rules can make a difference between success and injury.
1. Learn to routinely size up your situation for safety.
As you walk into the situation, take a good look around first. Just how big is this task, and what else might be in the way? Can you break it up into smaller tasks to make it less strenuous or easier to reach? Consider what could possibly go wrong.
2. Think two or three steps ahead.
If you do the most obvious thing, will it really accomplish the task or just create a new obstacle? This is especially true when working in tighter spaces. Taking a moment to mentally plan your strategy can save you some work or reduce additional risk to your body.
3. Work smart, not hard!
All the usual body mechanics rules still apply. Keep the load close and around the middle area of your body where you can keep your neck and back in a natural alignment. Avoid twisting at the waist or over your knees.
4. Engage your mind to keep your core muscles working throughout the effort. Tighten those abdominals a bit and keep your shoulder blades down and back.
Still going nowhere? These extra tips might be helpful:
• Push or scoot the object instead of lifting it. Pressing through your hips or the tops of your thighs can allow you to keep your back straight during the effort.
• “Walk” the object by tilting it up on one edge and then moving it one side at a time. This works for bulky items even if they aren’t heavy. It can reduce your effort considerably.
• Steady yourself on a secure object like a counter or ledge, especially if you must stretch to get something a bit out of reach.
A bit of mindfulness and some creativity can often provide the best way forward!
Sheltering Arms has a variety of fitness, wellness, and therapy services to strengthen the core and back. To learn more, call 804-764-1000 or click here to see our full selection of services offered.