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Home Improvement and Your Back

By Krista Elliott

So, your home is starting to look its age, you're outgrowing it, or you're just looking to update it a little (that orange shag carpet isn't quite so groovy anymore). Guess it's time to renovate! While it's easy to get caught up on the details like color palettes and budgets, there's something else that needs to be considered: Your body.

In addition to wearing protective gear like safety glasses and steel-toe boots, are you remembering to take measures to protect your joints, neck, and spine? If not, you're putting yourself at risk for torn ligaments, aching muscles, a herniated disc, or worse.

Here's a spine-saving guide to home renovations:

Repairing or laying a new roof: Slips and falls are dangerous enough on your back as it is. Slips and falls from a roof? That could be devastating ... even deadly. To keep your spine and joints safe, use a sturdy extension ladder, wear proper non-slip footwear, and put on a safety harness. Instead of reaching down for tools, have a friend pass them up to you, or use a pulley system. 

Installing drywall or bathroom fixtures: Putting up drywall, or installing something like a bathtub, should really be a two-person job, as they're much too heavy and awkward to do alone. Lifting something that is too heavy can result in pulled back muscles, or a painful herniated disc. If none of your friends are up to the task, (did you try bribing them with food and beer?), then at least lift smart. Bend your knees when lifting. Carry and support your supplies by way of a dolly or a workhorse bench wherever possible. You may even be able to rent a drywall lift from your local building supply store.

Painting or installing ceiling fixtures: Painting a ceiling can be a real pain in the neck! The stretching and twisting, as well as the long periods spent tilting your head back can result in painful neck strain and subluxations. A sturdy extension roller allows you to paint a bit farther away, so you don't have to be directly underneath the spot you're doing. And don't forget a sturdy stepstool with a handle for the cutting-in jobs to reduce your chances of a joint-harming fall. 

Laying floors or building a deck: Both jobs require a lot of kneeling, which is killer on the knees and back. Investing in a pair of good quality knee pads is a must. Plus, all of the lifting and lugging of supplies, tiles, mortar, and lumber can put you at risk for pulling a muscle or doing damage to your spine. Make the stacks, bundles, and buckets you carry to your work site smaller, even if it means more trips.

Before undertaking that big home renovation project, make sure you start out with a visit to The Joint Chiropractic. Regular treatments can help prevent injuries from occurring in the first place by strengthening the spine and increasing flexibility. However, if you still end up hurting yourself despite everything, chiropractic care can safely treat injuries and help you get on your road to recovery sooner. 

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