Like a lot of people this past year, I have been organizing and updating my house. I also did a lot of gardening over the summer.
I have organized and cleared out kitchen cabinets and pantries requiring lots of squatting, lifting and moving things around. My body held up well.
I planted a small vegetable garden of kale and lettuce, planted pots of flowers and tomatoes, divided hosta (actually my son, Drew, did this), and extended some of the flower beds. Again, my body held up well.
I, along with Drew, painted two bedrooms. I crawled along the floor in order to paint the lower part of the room. I went up and down a ladder to paint the top part of the room. I went from standing to squatting multiple times. All-in-all, Drew and I painted the rooms with five coats of paint. Later in the week, as luck would have it, I didn’t like one of the room’s colors so I, alone, painted two more coats of a different color in that room.
After that, my body finally said “enough”. I had a major arthritic flare up of both my big toes and my right hand was achy.
Those of you who have seen me for physical therapy know the importance I place on the big toe. Without good mobility and functional use of the big toe, your whole gait pattern is thrown off and you’ll experience difficulty integrating your feet with your core.
It’s helpful to understand how your foot works when walking. As you step forward, your foot is in a supinated (turned in), rigid position as the outside of your heel hits the ground first. Your foot then pronates (turned out) and becomes flexible as it moves to the inside of the heel, then your arch, and ultimately rolling over your big toe which will signal your glutes to activate as you begin another step. The rest of your body works together with your feet to move you forward and keep you stable.
There are exercises you can do to promote big toe mobility and integration with the rest of your body.
Big toe exercises
- While standing, lift your big toe (while keeping other toes on ground), then push your big toe into ground as you lift other toes. This video by Jay Dicharry, MPT does a great job of explaining how and why to do this exercise.
- This was very difficult for me at first but after a couple of weeks of practice I could do this exercise. Tip: Try doing this in the shower.
- While standing, look straight ahead and step your right foot across the left foot forming a “T”, push your left leg down through big toe to activate your glutes as you rotate. Check out this Youtube video demonstration.
How to prevent injury while working around the house
- Use good body mechanics to avoid back stress by hip hinging and squatting correctly
- Warm up with some mobility exercises such as these: Wash wall, calf stretch, hip mobility side to side, hip mobility rotation
- Wear good, supportive shoes appropriate for the activity
- Listen to your body and rest when you feel tired – probably best to end early than keep pushing
- Understand your limitations and ask for help. I would have been a lot worse without Drew’s help!
Let me know what projects you accomplished around the house and how your body held up! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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