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Back-Saving Tips for Clark Griswold Wannabes

By Krista Elliott

I'm still wondering where August went. 

But here we are in November, and The Stonecutter and I went out today to get some outdoor decorations in preparation for the holidays. And fortunately, we managed to keep Thing No. 1 and Thing No. 2 from seeing the $200 inflatable Minions winter scene. Objectionable inflatables aside, we tend to do most of our decorating during this month because December just gets too busy (and its weather too unpredictable). No, I'm not in California; you have plenty of time to soak in this information with your cozy rays of sunshine.

You might be doing the same thing over the next few weeks, with grand ambitions of  Clark Griswold-ing the heck out of your house, covering every square inch with lights and impressing (or frustrating) your neighbors. If so, I salute you. However, if your ambition takes you to high places (in the literal sense), use caution. A lot of outdoor holiday decorating involves ladders. And improper ladder usage can lead to serious back and joint injuries, or even worse. 

So, pour yourself some eggnog and pay attention, because without further ado, here are some outdoor-decorating back and joint safety tips! 

Keep it on the Down Low - If you only have to elevate yourself by a couple of feet, why haul out a big stepladder? A sturdy stepstool with a large standing platform offers a stable base for your feet, helping protect you from spine-damaging falls. Just make sure that it is standing on solid and stable ground.

Don't Do Anything Foolish, Laddy - If you're heading higher up and using a stepladder or extension ladder, don't be a hero and go it alone. Make sure you have a strong helper holding your ladder at the bottom to keep it stable and stationary. 

Hanging on Kind of Helps - Too many people go up a ladder, carrying stuff in their arms and barely hanging on by one hand. Don't do this. Best practices for ladder safety indicate you should follow a three-point system when climbing or descending, meaning that at least three of your extremities (hands or feet) should always be touching the ladder. Wondering how you'll get your stuff up with you? A toolbelt for your ties, fasteners, and staple gun, as well as a handline and bucket for your lights, will all allow you to focus on your ladder, not your items, while climbing. 

Professional Anglers - Be sure to follow the 4:1 rule when leaning a straight or extension ladder. For every four feet of height the ladder has (from the top support to the bottom support), the bottom of the ladder should be one foot out from the ladder's resting point at the top. Working on a 16-foot ladder? Make sure the bottom of the ladder is at least four feet out from your wall. 

Don't be Lazy - If you have to lean your body out from where you're standing on the ladder, get off the ladder, climb down, and move the ladder over. More people have fallen off of ladders and discovered the joys of broken vertebrae because they were too lazy to move their ladder, and just reached out one ... more ... inch. 

If you do happen to have a ladder-related incident, chiropractic care can help. With gentle and precise adjustments, the experts at The Joint Chiropractic can help your spine return to its proper alignment, helping to reduce back pain, release the pressure on trapped nerves, and speed healing from injuries. And routine care from The Joint can keep you in optimal alignment, helping your balance and center of gravity, which may reduce your risk of falling in the first place. 

So, be merry and bright, and may your holiday decorating be injury-free and without any city-wide power shortages. 

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