8 tips for safe spring cleaning

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Blooming trees. Blue skies. Fresh air. Warmer temperatures. Spring is in the air, and with that comes spring cleaning. After being cooped up all winter, you are anxious to prep for a thriving lawn and garden. Or you may want to do some exterior work on your home. You may use muscles during spring cleaning that you haven’t used all winter. Whatever the case, it’s important to take steps to work safely and prevent injury.

“There are some simple steps you can take to keep safe while working outside this spring,” says Todd May PT, DPT, OMPT, Director of Rehab Services at McLaren Port Huron. “It’s all about planning ahead, taking your time and being mindful of your movements.”   

Here are some tips for safe spring cleaning.
1. Stretch. Take the time to stretch and warm up/cool down before and after spring cleaning.
2. Wear the appropriate safety gear. Wear closed-toed shoes or boots, gloves, long pants and long sleeves. Don’t forget safety glasses and hearing protection when using equipment.
3. Lift the right way. Bend at the knees and hips, keeping your back straight, and use your legs to lift the load. 
4. Switch jobs frequently. Try to change tasks every 30 minutes to avoid repetitive use injury.
5. Practice ladder safety. Have someone available to hold the ladder steady if possible. Wear non-skid shoes and don’t lean too far to either side. “A good rule of thumb is to keep three points of bodily contact on the ladder at all times,” says Todd. “That could be two feet and a hand, or two hands and one foot.”
6. Watch for trip hazards. Avoid laying brooms, shovels or other equipment on the ground where you can step on or trip over it. Check for fallen branches or other debris that can get in your way.
7. Take frequent breaks. Take a 10- to 15-minute break for each hour of strenuous activity.
8. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids before and during spring cleaning. 

If you’ve injured yourself during spring cleaning, and rest, heat/ice or over-the-counter medications have not improved your pain or function, consider calling your primary care physician or trying physical therapy. The team at McLaren Port Huron can work with you to address pain, improve function, improve strength, restore joint mobility, restore range of motion and help get you back doing the things you enjoy.