With the long Easter weekend followed by two additional bank holidays, many of you will be looking at doing some DIY. Whether it is in the home or garden, injuries do happen, so here are our tops tips for keeping you healthy:
- Ask yourself – do I have the knowledge, competence and fitness for this job?
- Think about your safety and the safety of those around you when planning and carrying out the task. Common injuries are: cutting and piercing, falls from ladders, chairs or stools, being struck by an object and a foreign body in the eye.
- Prepare well. Check you have the correct safety clothing, that you have the appropriate tools, your tools are in good working order and you use them correctly.
- Hedge cutting / painting and decorating: Ideally you should not use your arms above shoulder height as this increases the risk of injury to your arms and upper back and neck. When using a ladder or stool, do not over reach and make sure that you are standing on the equipment correctly. This will mean that you have to move your ladder/stool more times, but decreases the risk of falling as well as over using your upper back, neck, shoulders and arms.
- Gardening: Make a list of what needs to be done by the end of day/weekend and then look at how you will be using your body. Ideally you want to keep changing the use of your body, so you don’t overuse any areas and risk injury. For example, you may spend 10 minutes digging until you feel your back beginning to tire, you may then spend 10 minutes doing a task that requires standing, such as potting up in the greenhouse, you may then spend 10 minutes kneeling and weeding. 5-10 minutes rest with a drink and start the process all over again.
- Lawn mower: If you have an electric mover, there will be a tendency to either use it as you would a vacuum cleaner or swing it from side to side – moving the body and keeping the feet still. A back injury waiting to happen! You need to walk behind the mower creating nice stripes, using the body as a whole.
- Lifting / bending or twisting: Whether it’s laying a patio, putting together furniture or having a good declutter, using your body correctly is vital. Lifting, bending and twisting, if done incorrectly or repeatedly can cause you much pain and discomfort, if not immediately then a few days or weeks later.
We have a habit of keeping our feet glued to the floor and moving our back/spine to do the task. It is much better if you keep the back/spine aligned and use you feet to move your body – think about how you twist and reach for an object – I bet you don’t move your feet!
When lifting, if you can, make sure that you have a wide legged stance and squat to pick up the item. If necessary get someone to help you. We hope that you remain injury free, but we are here to help if you pull a muscle, tweak your back or neck or find that getting out of your chair or bed in the morning is now difficult.