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  • Writer's pictureJackie

Skirt these 5 Common Injury Traps

Paying a little extra attention pays off.

Have you ever had an injury and wished you had a better story to tell? It’s always more glamorous to say something like we were hiking the Rockies and twisted a knee on a glacier than to admit we tweaked that knee getting out of bed!

Most injuries DO happen in pretty mundane situations. This doesn’t make them any less surprising or painful, though. Keeping them from sneaking up on us can mean simply paying a little more attention to the ways we’re moving (and conditioning) our bodies.

Here are five very common scenarios that often lead to sudden injury. Do you fall into any of these “traps?”

Losing balance on the stairs

Anyone who’s distracted and/or rushing can slip on stairs, but if your sense of balance is already weak, steps can be downright life threatening. According to a 2018 US study, an average of 1,076,558 patients per year are treated in emergency rooms for stair-related injuries. When headed down a flight, always use handrails (and only carry what will fit in the other hand/arm), descend mindfully, and note any pain in knees or other joints that might be compromising the way you tackle stairs. It’s worth addressing joint issues with physical therapy and strength/flexibility training. Crucially, balance exercises benefit people of ALL ages.

Reaching into your backseat

I know way too many people, myself included, that were racing to get out of the car, reached for the heavy purse or briefcase in the backseat, and injured a rotator cuff faster than they could say lickety split (usually followed by other choice words). Rotator cuff/shoulder muscles are fairly small and delicate compared to larger ones in the back and chest, and it does not take tremendous force to strain, or worse, to tear one. Consider placing your bags in the front seat — or on your passenger’s lap! At the very least, get out of the car, open the back door, and extract bags that way.

Lifting without thinking first

By now, most of us probably know that we should not lift heavy items without bending our knees and should avoid twisting while hoisting the aforementioned monstrosities. Unfortunately, knowing and doing don’t always go together because we’re often in a hurry and thinking about other things. Always consciously approach heavy items with a plan in mind. The Mayo Clinic outlines these steps: Lift from a safe position (such as kneeling or squatting), maintain your back’s natural curve, use your legs, and avoid twisting. Also, the plan could just involve recruiting someone who’s better equipped to lift a large item. No shame in protecting a precious lower back!

Twisting your neck to look behind you

Sometimes when we’re driving, maybe backing out and whipping our heads around to check those pesky blind spots, we can suddenly experience a sharp spasm in the neck and even many days of limited mobility. Weak or tight muscles can set us up for this really uncomfortable result. As always, it’s important to pay attention, not only to the road, but to turning our heads gently and not exceeding the neck’s range of motion. Unfortunately, typical daily life sets us up for injury: Our posture suffers from hunching over computers and phones, from long hours of sitting, and from high stress that causes neck and jaw muscles to tighten up. Stretching and relaxation, like the kind you enjoy in a low key yoga class, and upper back and rear shoulder strengthening can really help.

Typing your way into carpal tunnel syndrome

Dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome has been on the radar of office workers for years and years, but nowadays, almost all of us type frequently, thanks to texting and posting and writing email on phones, laptops and tablets. Problematically, we’re not often in ideal ergonomic positions when we do these tasks, maybe curling on the couch or even lying down. We can protect our wrists to some extent by keeping them in a neutral position when we type, which means hands are in line with wrists rather than being flexed or extended. Bear in mind, however, that certain factors —rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, obesity, and age— can make you susceptible to the syndrome.

Obviously, we'll never completely injury-proof our lives. Those little accidents come on in a split second sometimes. However, with a touch more attention to our bodies, how well we strengthen & stretch them, how much balance we possess, and a sense of being present as we tackle tasks, we really can skirt some of those potential mishaps.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Pexels


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