Mind & Body
Protect Your Back through the Hustle & Bustle
12/2/2017 2:54:46 PM
Protect Your Back


Holiday decorating and shopping may sound like perfectly safe activities, but oftentimes they’re not. That’s because some of us do much more lifting, carrying, and ladder-climbing during the holiday season than at any other time, and those activities increase our risk for injury.

According to the National Safety Council, some 15,000 injuries involving holiday decorating are seen in U.S. emergency departments each year. Back injuries are a particular concern this time of year — picture lifting a too-heavy Christmas tree or falling off a ladder while hanging lights.
Rather than take a chance at being sidelined during the holidays, follow this advice to protect your back and avoid missing out on the festivities:

Use proper lifting technique. Whether you’re lifting a Christmas tree, a box of decorations, or a heavy package, do it the right way. The Mayo Clinic recommends starting as close to the object as possible. Then kneel or squat with the object between your legs. Lift the object while maintaining the natural curve of your back, and don’t hold your breath. While holding the object close to your body, rise to a standing position. Remember to use your leg muscles, not your back. Don’t twist, and if you need to turn your body to carry the object somewhere, pivot with your feet, not your back.
Also, if you think something is too heavy for you to lift on your own, don’t do it. Instead, ask for help or, as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration suggests, use a cart or other assistive device if there’s one available.

Use correct ladder safety. Maybe you have a tall tree to decorate, or perhaps you plan to string lights from your second-story roof. Whatever the case, there’s a good chance you’ll need a ladder, and the last thing you want to do is fall off. Even falls from a few feet off the ground can cause injuries, and falling off a tall ladder could result in serious injuries such as a broken back.

According to the National Safety Council, a straight or extension ladder should be placed one foot away from whatever surface it’s resting against for every four feet of ladder height. When you’re climbing, always grip the rungs rather than the side rails, and keep three points of contact — two hands and one foot or one hand and two feet — on the ladder at all times. If you’re putting up lights or other outdoor decorations, get off the ladder right away if high winds or rain begins. And last but not least, make sure you’re using the proper ladder or stepstool to begin with; never stand on chairs, tables, or other furniture.

Prevent tripping hazards. With holiday gifts, strings of lights, and extra extension cords, your house and yard are probably more cluttered than usual this time of year. And more clutter means more chances to trip and fall, potentially injuring your back or other body parts. To avoid this problem, keep gifts and other decorations in places where no one will need to step over or around them. When possible, place extension cords against the wall and avoid running them under rugs, around furniture, or across doorways. Similarly, don’t run a string of lights across a high traffic area.

With some caution and common sense, you can protect your back and focus on enjoying the holiday season.
Posted by: Andrea Mongler | Submit comment | Tell a friend

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