Are You Ready for Spring Cleaning Season? A JPS Therapist’s Tips Can Keep You Safe and Healthy

April 27th, 2018

The weather is suddenly warm, the grass is growing and suddenly people are getting the urge to tackle the projects that have been stacking up all winter.

Amanda Schmidt, DPT

Amanda Schmidt, DPT

But, before you go all out with the yard work, home repairs and spring cleaning, remember that this is a time of year when people are prone to injuring themselves. If you suddenly over-do it after three or four winter months of sitting on the sofa, bad things are going to happen and you could miss work – or worse – with an injury.

Here are seven tips to stay healthy and safe during spring cleaning and yard work season from JPS physical therapist Amanda Schmidt, DPT:

  • Prevent injuries and other harm to yourself by committing to stay active year round. Don’t just binge on activity when the weather is nice. If you keep your movement up throughout the year it will keep your ligaments and tendons limber and the additional exercise will help to keep you in shape. Try to find indoor things to do when you can’t get outside.
  • When you’re working, try to change positions every 15 minutes or so. Take a break and do a stretch. Think about your neck and your back. Schmidt said people often lose track of time and spend far too long with their body in one awkward position. The result is stiffness and soreness later. By mixing things up, you can avoid those problems.
  • If you’re doing heavy yard work, divide the load. Make it a group activity. Offer to help a friend in exchange for them helping you. It’s also nice to have someone to hold the ladder if you’re going to be climbing. Schmidt said doctors and therapists see a huge increase during the spring in the number of people who come to the hospital after falling off their roof or off of a ladder.
  • Make a long-term plan for your home and yard maintenance. Pick one or two things to do in a day or a weekend. Don’t try to do everything on your checklist all at once. In addition to making your body ache, having too many tasks on your plate causes stress and, when people are under stress, they don’t always make the best decisions. They push it when they ought to be taking a break or try to do things that might not be safe in effort to check something off their list.
  • It’s going to rain sometimes or you’re going to get sick and not be able to do all the things you planned. That’s not a question of if but when. Learn to accept failure. It’s something we need to be able to deal with when it happens. You’ll get it done next week. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
  • Warm up. Even if you’re just cleaning out a closet, jog, ride your bike, swim and stretch. Even for five minutes. It will help you a lot later on.
  • Just as important as warming up is easing your way back to normal after strenuous activity. Don’t forget to cool down.  Stretch when you’re done or go for a walk. Just do something light. It helps to prevent soreness. Also recommended is drinking some ice water and using an icepack on your joints after working to reduce inflammation and get your body back to normal.

“Just doing a few little things can help a lot,” Schmidt said. “If you do these things and don’t over-do it when it comes to spring training and yard work, you can avoid a lot of soreness and injuries and, hopefully, it will help you stay more fit.”

Share this article!