It’s that time of year again – the weather is getting warmer, the flowers are blooming, and that layer of dust on your highest bookshelf is begging to be swept clean.
Spring cleaning is a healthy habit of throwing out the old to make way for the new, but as an orthopedic surgeon can tell you, many people end up throwing out their backs in this process.
Here, we go over three common activities during spring cleaning, the injuries they can lead to, and how to avoid these injuries to make sure you feel as good as your house looks after spring cleaning.
Keep Fit and Take Breaks to Prevent Straining
Deep cleaning is a common practice during spring cleaning, as many like to remove dirt and grime that has built up over the year, especially in frequently use places, like bathrooms and kitchens. Often, deep cleaning involves activities like scrubbing, wiping, mopping, and vacuuming, which all utilize the upper body, such as the muscles and joints in the arms and shoulders.
When done intensely and for long periods of time, these repetitive motions can cause strain in muscles and tendons, which connect muscles to bone. This can cause muscles and joints to feel painful, weak, and swollen. In severe cases, tissue can even tear.
In mild cases, muscle strain can be treated with rest, ice on the painful area, and physical therapy. However, in severe cases, surgery may be required to re-connect torn tissues.
To prevent this, remember to take breaks often, so you are limiting the amount of time you are subjecting your muscles and joints to repetitive motions. In addition, stretching and exercising regularly keeps your muscles and tendons healthy and elastic, so they are less prone to tearing during the repetitive motions of cleaning or other activities.
Lift With Your Legs to Preserve the Back
Heavy lifting is another common part of spring cleaning. This may involve lifting large furniture to clean whatever crumbs have fallen under them, or lugging boxes of books and clothes that you’re parting ways with and loading them into the trunk of your car.
While you do have to use your back to bend over, you should be using your legs to lift heavy objects, not your back muscles. When you primarily use your back, it can lead to lower back strain.
Like arm and shoulder strains, mild back strain can be treated with rest, ice, and physical therapy. In more severe cases, surgery may be required, or pain can become chronic, requiring interventional pain management.
In order to prevent back strain from heavy lifting, lift from the legs, not the back. Get close to the object, bend from the knees to lower your body to reach it, tighten your stomach muscles, push into the floor with your legs to lift up the object, and keep the object close to your body. Make sure you don’t twist your back when lifting, carrying, or putting down the object.
In addition to proper lifting posture, injury can be prevented by using a lifting device like a hand truck, and by exercising regularly to keep back muscles strong and healthy. Also, never be afraid to ask for help from a friend or loved one when lifting heavy objects.
Stay Alert When Using Ladders or Step Stools to Prevent Fractures and Concussions
Lastly, ladders and step stools are great tools for reaching hard-to-clean places, like ceiling fan blades or the tops of bookshelves, but they require you to shift your balance when ascending and descending, which can lead to injury. If you have poor balance, miss a step, or are distracted by a family member or pet, you may fall, and sudden impact with the ground can lead to broken bones, or a concussion if you hit your head.
Concussions can involve a long and boring healing process, as you must stop all physical activities and mental activities requiring intense concentration for weeks. Broken bones, at best, can be set in a cast and take a month to heal, and at worst, require surgery.
To prevent injuries associated with falls, stay alert when using ladders and stools. Focus on each step, completing your task, and safely coming back down to the ground. In addition, if you have any balance issues, problems walking steadily, or impaired vision, do not use a ladder. Instead, ask a friend or family member for help. Taking break applies here, too – it is important to stay hydrated and energized to prevent passing out from dehydration or exertion.
Orthopedic Doctors in Southwest Florida
Sometimes, accidents happen no matter how many precautions you take. If you injure yourself during spring cleaning or if you have any other joint, back, neck, or upper extremity pain regularly, don’t hesitate to make an appointment at Advanced Orthopedic Center. Our excellent team of board-certified physicians personalize treatment plans for each patient and use a wide variety of less-invasive procedures to get you feeling better as soon as possible.
Schedule an appointment with one of our outstanding physicians today by calling (941) 629-6262 or by filling our convenient appointment request form. We have two locations for your convenience, in Port Charlotte, FL, as well as Punta Gorda, FL.