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Summer 2014 - Page 13 Do The DIY Workout

your navel and lower stomach in and up towards your spine. Keep these muscles engaged (contracted) for 5 or 6 steps, either exhaling slowly or breathing in and out as usual. Then relax your abdominals for a s-l-o-w inhale, and repeat for a set of 10 contractions. Work up to 3 sets of 10. Remember to keep your shoulders back, your elbows slightly bent, and your core engaged. Picture your spine l-o-n-g and in food alignment. REFINISHING FURNITURE Works forearms (not thumbs and fingertips) and abs You'll work most efficiently by using your arms in the range from chest height to mid-thigh. To spare your back, you can raise a small piece of furniture up onto a table or workbench, or make a platform from an old door or piece of plywood. Take frequent breaks to reverse your position: Briefly change hands to rest your dominant arm. Stand up straight every few minutes and lift your chest up and out. To unwind: Circle your wrists in both directions; open and close your fingers; rotate your shoulders forward and backward. REPLACING FENCE BOARDS Works triceps for forward thrust, biceps to slow the swing, quads and abs In addition to a good claw hammer or pry bar, your abs are an ideal tool for this project. Engage them to stabilize yourself whenever you are prying out nails or hammering in new ones. Always face the fence straight on rather than twisting, and avoid the temptation to overreach. (When you get into a peculiar position, you jeopardize your joints.) Use your legs and safe leverage techniques when you lift boards. Bennett recommends a pneumatic nail driver for challenging ergonomic situations-but cautions that the blast back is forceful. Wear gloves and safety flasses to protect against splinters. PAINTING THE HOUSE Works triceps for holding the brush (or roller or sprayer), biceps and abs The key to working safely is to keep your painting arm no higher than your shoulder girdle, both to the front and to the side. If you are positioned properly, you will not need to tip your head back (unless you are painting a ceiling, for which Bennett suggests an extended roller handle). Switching painting arms even briefly will reduce overuse of your shoulder, elbow, and wrist. When you are in an unusual position, its important to stop at least a couple of times an hour to straighten up, stretch, and get a drink of water. This will not slow you down, because you should reposition your ladder or paint bucket often. Tightening your glutes on and off can help you feel steadier on a ladder. (Beware: Continuously contracted glutes can lead to muscle shortening and/or painful trigger points.) CLEANING A SINK Works forearms and abs Stand as close to the sink as you can, to avoid using a far-forward reach. Some under-sink cabinets are tall enough that you can open the door and comfortably rest one foot on the bottom shelf. If you turn out your flexed leg, you can get closer to the sink. You can also reduce the stress on your back by placing your non-scrubbing hand in the sink or on the kitchen counter. As you lean forward, relax your knees and let the free arm take some of your weight. Locking out your knees instead of engaging your abs can lead to torquing, which loosens ligaments over time. WISE WORDS FROM THE PROS Wetzler offers three reminders for any project: First, stay close to the object you are working on, but don't freeze into one position. Second, use the power muscles in your hips and legs to do the heavy work. Think of your hipsrather than your spine-as a hinge. And third, remember to breathe, especially when exerting effort. Bennett strongly recommends taking frequent breaks and being realistic about how long a project may take you. Bonus: He adds that being mindful and using your subdominant extremities can enhance brain function as well as provide physical relief. Think about it. Shop flooring, lawnmowers, and our complete list of DIY tools at Build.com/summer2014

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