Avoiding DIY Injuries

I have a confession to make: I love property programmes. Whether it’s building eco-houses underground, tips on how to redecorate an entire house in an hour or how adding a mirror to a hallway will flog a flat faster, I love them all! I’m not bad at DIY either perhaps it’s my interest in mechanical structures although my girlfriend Emma can testify that I like shopping for power tools (toys) more than using them.

Obviously, I’m not alone in my passion for improving my home: how many of you thought about redoing the guest room or freshening up the living room over the last few weeks? Before you start, it’s worth thinking about how you are going to tackle your DIY challenge in a way that won’t leave you with injuries or worse.

It’s better to seek professional help rather than tackle a job out of your skill range. If you are sure you are capable of the task, then plan it out carefully and bear in mind the following advice for doing DIY safely.

Lifting and carrying Always lift heavy weights extremely carefully. Approach them slowly, getting a firm grip, bend your knees and keep your back straight, taking the weight with your legs and not with your lower back. Keep the load close to your body and try not to pivot on your legs but turn your whole body. If you have to move heavy loads, either get help or use a wheelbarrow. 

Kneeling It is always better to kneel on one leg rather than bend- ing down repeatedly from the hips. If you suffer from knee problems or osteoarthritis use a cushion to kneel on. If you must bend, keep the lower back as hollow as possible.

Workbench levels Your workbench should be a level that will allow you to work without bending forward from the hips. It is wise not to stand in front of your workbench for long periods at a time without a break.

Varying the task Working constantly at one task means your movements are repetitive. This is the prime cause of strains and sprains. If possible, carry out short periods of activity on a variety of jobs rather than slogging away at the same one all day.

Keep warm Chilled muscles are more easily strained. So keep yourself warm and covered. Wear several layers and take them off as you warm up.

Rest periods However anxious you are to get the job done, it is sensible to take regular rest periods. A sit down with a cup of tea can make you feel better in the days to come too. Not taking a regular break is as bad for your back as continually working in the same position.

The morning after If the next day you find that you ache you must rest and recuperate. Should the pain persist, consult your local chiropractor who can assess you and advise on the best course of action.