Planning on getting some work done outdoors? Keep these tips from Occupational Therapist Sam Penkala, O.T.R.L. in mind.
- Examine your body mechanics of the shoulder when your arms are elevated.
- Above the shoulder internal rotation can cause irritation in the shoulder called shoulder impingement
- Try to avoid internal rotation of the shoulder, essentially making a thumbs down motion
- Keep your arm activity below the shoulder, if possible
- Take breaks, especially if above the shoulder activity is necessary, to give your muscles a chance to rebound, and analyze the effect your task is having on your body
2. Employ joint protection strategies of the hand.
- Use larger and stronger joints when possible
- Use two hands to grab objects
- Don’t rely on your fingers when you can use a larger bone or joint
- Just because something has a handle, doesn’t mean you can use your whole arm
- Keep heavy objects close to your body and utilize your core
3. Practice the ‘golfer’s lift’ when you’re reaching down to grab something off the ground.
- Brace your non-grasping hand on a stabilizer object, like a chair, walking stick or golf club
- Lift up the leg that is opposite of the grasping hand; this will lessen the strain that is put on your back when you’re bending down
- Avoid repetitive strain on your muscles and joints
4. Wear proper footwear.
- Just because something is comfortable, doesn’t mean it’s great to wear when completing chores
- Consider the protective qualities of your shoes and how they protect your feet from injury
- Wear a nice-fitting shoe that has appropriate grip, doesn’t compromise your balance and allows you to be efficient
5. Drink water!
- Drinking water is important in both hot and cold weather situations
- Get a fun water bottle if you need help remembering to hydrate
- If you are going to be sweating, in a hot environment or exhausting yourself for more than an hour, consider a sports drink in addition to water
Sam Penkala, O.T.R.L., is an occupational therapist at MidMichigan Health.