When we reach our 40’s and over, manual work can take its toll on our bodies if we don’t pay attention. You are far more likely to injure yourself from 40 onwards. I see this in my physio practice often where many people we see are 40 and over. Of course, we treat people with sports injuries and other problems younger than 40, but the majority are over 40 years old.
The principal reason is that after 40, we start to experience some age-related weakness and that leaves us vulnerable to injuries. The biggest number of injuries that occur are in the shoulders, knees and backs. This tends to be problematic for people who are engaging in more manual tasks such as lifting repeatedly or lifting heavy objects. This can be someone whose daily work involves lifting – such a builder, or someone who has started to renovate their house on the weekends. Repeated lifting of heavy loads can and does lead to back problems due to overloading and stressing the lumbar discs, while shoulder injuries occur with overloading of the rotator cuff muscles.
So, what can be done to help prevent the likelihood of injury if you want to remain active?
1. Have a good lifting technique
2. Reduce the load if you are doing a lot of lifting
3. Improve strength around the lower back and shoulders
1. Correct lifting technique: bending from the hips and knees rather than the lower back is critical in protecting the lower back (lumbar spine.) The muscles in the legs are designed to take larger loads while the lower back muscles which are much smaller are not. So, try to bend from the hips and knees.
2. Plan the lift: a small amount of time (even 10 seconds) of planning can help reduce the chance of injury – getting the load closer to the body or removing objects in the path of the lift is part of that planning.
3. Keeping a strong core: a strong group of core muscles combined with bracing when you lift will help protect the lower back with repeated lifting and lifting heavy objects. Brace the abdomen engage the pelvic floor muscles and keep your shoulders strong before you lift.
Strengthening exercises for the shoulders and lower back:
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor hip-with apart. Start with your arms beside you
2. Lift your arms off the floor and tuck your chin to your chest.
3. Reach your hands towards your feet and lift your head, shoulders and trunk off the floor.
4. Return to the starting position, controlling the movement as you curl back down, keeping your chin tucked in.
1. Lie on your front face down with your hands on the floor, shoulder width apart and your fingers facing forward
2. Press up using your arms and shoulders, extending the elbows and lifting your chest and body from the floor up onto your toes
3. Lift to a position ensuring you have a straight line from your head to your feet.
4. Keep your core muscles tight and do not arch or sag your back
5. Bend your elbows, lowering your chest down to the floor, keeping your body completely straight as you return
If this push-up is too difficult try this from your knees or a wall.
Hope these tips are useful, Deb.