Create a Checklist to Check Yourself
As you are about to take on the cleaning of the garage or the clearing of the garden, remember that your body may just be getting out of its own sort of hibernation from the winter. The following are a few tips to get you prepared and to avoid painful injuries.
Feet and Knees
Be aware of your own body. Start at your feet. Roll them around. Massage them a little bit. Screen them for any aches and pains. For your knees, be aware of how they feel going from a sitting to standing position and then back down to sitting. Do you favor one side? Are you able to get to standing without pain? If you answered yes to one of these, then it may be important to have some type of knee support if you plan on walking up and down stairs several times to clean out a basement or an upstairs room.
Hips and Back
I recommend standing hip rotations for anyone and everyone prior to any type of physical activity. Standing with your hands on your hips, gently rotate your hips very slowly (like you are using a hula hoop in slow motion). Perform this movement for a full minute in one direction and then reverse and do the same thing in the other direction. This will increase circulation throughout your knees, hips and low back area. This exercise will also warm up the hip and lower back.
Do not be too vain to wear a low back support! A soft low back support belt to be used during lifting and bending serves as a little additional support that may be just what you need to prevent a sprain or a strain to your low back. Low back support belts are a simple way to avoid major issues with your low back.
Neck and Shoulders
Gentle range of motion exercises for your neck and shoulders prior to any type of physical activity will improve your function and prevent a very painful neck sprain. Neck sprains are typically caused from rotation of the head and neck followed by some type of straining. Range of motion exercises for the neck include extending your neck back and then forward (always move slowly,) side to side (ear to shoulder,) and then rotating left and then right (as if you were looking over your shoulder behind you.) These basic movements prior to and following any type of physical activity will also increase circulation and decrease risk of injury.
The shoulder is the most unstable joint in the body. Remember this when you are you moving it around. The shoulder will allow you to grab items, lift them and throw them over your head if you want to! However, the issue with the shoulder is that with all of the flexibility and motion that it provides, there is an increased risk of tendonitis and even arthritis that comes with it over time. Do not push your shoulders to their limits. They break down very easily and a nagging shoulder injury oftentimes affects many aspects of your life including sleeping.
Finally and most importantly, check your head. Ask yourself the question; do I really need to clean out this basement? Garage? Wash all of these windows??? If the answer still is yes, ask yourself the next question, is my body ready to do it? If you still answer yes, then go through your body system check and get to work! Happy Cleaning!