The Pryor Times

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December 9, 2011

Some chore tips from Redbud Physical Therapy

The cool weather finally headed this way, and that means a long list of chores just got longer.

Chores such as scooping out the rain gutters, detailing the car, cleaning the garage and let’s not forget the most traditional of fall activities, raking the leaves.

The good news is the weather has cooled off. The bad news is our heat excuse has run its course. So as much as we hate to admit it, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get busy. Before you do, however, here are a few tips that might help keep you healthy as you tackle your fall chores.

To begin with, most of your chores have a few things in common, including plenty of climbing, lifting and bending.

Let’s begin with bending. The basic rule of thumb is to avoid bending from the waist, which increases the stresses placed on the low and middle back, as well as the shoulders and neck.

Studies have suggested that forces placed upon the spine — including the disk, joints and ligaments — when bending incorrectly are three to five times higher than normal. To remedy this, be sure to bend your hips and knees and keep your back straight.

Make sure you are standing with your feet at least shoulder width apart to widen your base of support, improving your balance and lessening the chance for injury.

If you are bending for purposes of lifting, make sure the item is not too heavy. A common mistake is thinking that even large items can be moved short distances without problems. Don’t be afraid to get a helping hand from another person or to use adaptive equipment such as a dolly.

Since you already have the proper form with bending at the hips and knees, you will be less likely to depend on spinal muscles to perform the lift and more likely to use your legs instead.

Make sure the object is directly in front of and close to you before initiating the lift. Try to keep the object close to you during and especially at the end of the lift. Avoid turning or twisting the upper body or shoulders while you are holding or carrying your item.

You will be in a hurry to get the projects completed so you can get on with more important endeavors, such as relaxing in your recliner just in time for the big game. But don’t overdo it. A slow and steady pace will minimize the chance of pulling a muscle. Remember, muscles don’t respond well to quick or abrupt movements.

And don’t forget to take a little time to clear any debris from the area so as not to trip or stumble over loose items and to ensure you have easy access to the area in which you are working.

You now have your tips so you should be ready to go, unless you are going to try one of the most difficult of tasks – waiting for the weather to turn too cold to work outside. Few have succeeded in this endeavor, but it’s always worth a shot.

Redbud Physical Therapy has 11 offices throughout Northeast Oklahoma.

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