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Bad Habits (Repetitive Motion) Will Hurt


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This thread is a collection of truths that the veteran home inspectors have experienced and concluded, regarding repetitive motion and injury. It is for the benefit of the younger upcoming inspectors, so they don't repeat our mistakes. This is basically a thread where the veterans can tell the younger guys "what NOT to do", for their bodies sake, because it's only logical that, if you do something stupid long enough, you'll pay for it.

Kurt pretty well summed it in another thread: "Every one of us would be well served by studying the basic nursing skill of body mechanics. I did years ago, and it's served well." If you don't believe and heed that truth, then someday you'll be making posts similar to this one and those to follow it.

We only get one body in our lifetime, It's wise to study it enough to know what it's capable of, and what it's not capable of.

I've always tried to think like that. It's precisely why I never got in the habit of keeping my wallet in my back pocket. If you sit on your wallet every day of your life, eventually the wallet wins and your posture and spine alignment loose. About a year ago, I was enjoying the company of a chiropractor, who readily admitted: "One of the best friends of a chiropractor is a man's wallet."

And, on that note, here, again, are my three observations, which were born out of pretty severe pain, that went away when I changed my physical habits:

1. Realize that your leg only bends front to back. Don't perform a task that relies upon it to resist side to side pressure, like trying to rock a toilet with the side of your leg. Eventually, the toilet wins and your knee looses (inflammation and pain).

2. Don't get in the habit of easing electrical panel covers down to the floor, held from the top with one hand. This bad practice also took about twelve years to come home to roost. Eventually the panel cover wins, and your elbow looses (inflammation and pain)

3. Don't wear a tool belt or pouch! This one has been discussed before, and all the supermen out there will insist they've done it for years. So did I. But, it goes back to the truth of Kurt's original statement, and you can ask any chiropractor on the planet, if you have any doubt. If you hang five to ten pounds of weight on one side of your spine for fifteen to twenty years, what do you think is going to happen? Well let's see: natives tied flat boards to the forehead of their babies, and the kid's forehead grew out flat. Native women successively added rings to their necks, and their necks became astoundingly long. But, you're going to hang a weight to one side of your spine for twenty years, and nothing's going to happen? Back pain is about spinal alignment, which in turn is all about posture, balance and symmetry. Don't tempt fate. Think about it. DON'T WEAR A TOOL BELT OR POUCH. Unless, of course, you just like slipped and herniated discs. Then, by all means, wear one.

So, veteran HI's: If you have a similar "word to the wise" bit of advice for the up and coming on how to preserve their physical well being, post it here. And, here's hoping that the aspiring veteran home inspectors take heed and enjoy very long and healthy careers in a great profession.

All the best!

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I can't for the life of me understand what you mean by "easing electrical panel covers down to the floor". When I take a deadfront off, I remove all but two screws, loosen those remaining two, then push against the cover while I remove them. Then I grasp the cover by the edges, take it off and place it on the floor. No easing involved.

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I can't for the life of me understand what you mean by "easing electrical panel covers down to the floor". When I take a deadfront off, I remove all but two screws, loosen those remaining two, then push against the cover while I remove them. Then I grasp the cover by the edges, take it off and place it on the floor. No easing involved.

Perfect, Joe! You're doing it the way I should have been all along. I did all you do, but when I finally had the cover held at the bottom, by my right hand, I'd pull away the top edge and grasp it firmly with me left hand. Then, I'd release the bottom of the cover and lower it to the floor with my left, which was eventually hell on my elbow. The tendon running through my elbow finally began to protest.

Now, like you, I lower the cover to the floor with two hands.

You're wise.

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Any of you Wafarin (blood thinner) takers. Shorts are out! One good scratch from landscaping or undriven nails- cellars/attics will cause a time consuming disruption. Freaks out the client!

Carry my stuff in a fisherman vest, cargo pants and/or "job boss" bucket. I do not scratch up 'priceless' antiques or walls with a tool belt. Camera and flashlight a hung around my neck. Tucked into my highpockets when not needed.[:-banghea

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Any of you Wafarin (blood thinner) takers. Shorts are out! One good scratch from landscaping or undriven nails- cellars/attics will cause a time consuming disruption. Freaks out the client!

Carry my stuff in a fisherman vest, cargo pants and/or "job boss" bucket. I do not scratch up 'priceless' antiques or walls with a tool belt. Camera and flashlight a hung around my neck. Tucked into my highpockets when not needed.[:-banghea

I'm with Jack, except for the rat poison....

Now, what would cause my elbow to hurt? My wife says it is caused by the repetative motion of me eating and drinking!

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I agree, bumping around a house with a set of tool pouches isn't cool. It's great in a house under construction when you're the person building it; before you have the detail crew come in and clean it all up and patch all of the nicks and dings you and the rest of the crew have made with those tool pouches but it's not cool in someone's house that's up for sale.

I've thought about using a Skiller's vest like some do, but I just know that I'm going to damage a tool or myself wearing that thing with a bunch of stuff in the pockets while maneuvering through some tight attic or crawlspace. Plus, what if I were to slip and fall off the roof (been there - done that) and land on one of those objects and drive it through my side. It'd probably do more damage than those 5 broken ribs did.

I go in with my Veto Pro-Pak bag, find a convenient out-of-the-way place in a central location, open it up like a doctor opening his toolbag and then I lay out what I'm going to need for the job right there next to the bag like a surgeon preparing for an operation. During the job when Yung or I need a tool we go to the bag and get the tools as needed and the next time we walk by that area we put them back. I don't mind the extra trips to the bag - I can always use the additional exercise.

Go to a thrift store and my yourself a handheld 120v. Dirt Devil vacuum, the kind with a cloth bag. They are powerful as hell and have a beater brush on them and are perfect for cleaning up after yourself. Don't even bother getting a battery-powered vacuum - I bought an 18v one for nearly $60 that was reputed to be stronger than anything else around - it can't hold a candle to the Dirt Devil I picked up used for $4.

Sham-Wows - very handy; especially when you are testing that whirlpool tub, hear a scream from downstairs, run down and find that there is water pouring through the ceiling below because there is a crack in one of the whirlpool tub components behind the tub where you can't see it from the access door. They soak up a huge amount of water very fast. Don't buy the ones on TV - they're too friggin expensive. Go to the Dollar store and for the $20+ you'd spend ordering a bunch of different sized Sham-Wows from the TV you can get 20 large ones.

While you are at the dollar store, pick up a few packages of 60 watt light bulbs for those times when you need one and the only one available has burned out, and grab some AA's for thermostats so you won't have to skip running a system 'cuz the batteries are dead.

I don't wear one (been meaning to pick one up) but I recommend you pick up a skateboarder's helmet for when you are doing attics and crawlspaces. Cant tell you the number of times nails from the roof have jumped clean out of the roof plane or beams under the house have detached themselves from the rest of the house and attacked my scalp. Customers are always going, "Oh my God, look, you're bleeding." Blood's not kewl - Yung has gotten into the habit of standing by with a diaper wipe to clean up the blood before I freak people out.

Oops, just remembered that Mike is fixated on repetitive motion this morning and that this is major thread drift. Sorry.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Any of you Wafarin (blood thinner) takers. Shorts are out! One good scratch from landscaping or undriven nails- cellars/attics will cause a time consuming disruption. Freaks out the client!

I take a daily dose of aspirin to keep the arthritis pain at bay. I'm pretty sure I don't bleed as much as you, but I know exactly what you mean. Even the tiniest nick or scrape leaks alarming quantities of blood.

Wolf, add bandaids to your tool list.

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No, MIke, it's not devoted exclussively to repetative motion. It's about ways to avoid permanent injury through our inspection habits and methods. So, feel free to add anything that helps others avoid physical injury.

(Regarding your tool bag. I strategically place it ahead of myself at the exit of spaces I'm entering. I developed what I affectionately call "the mouse technique" - running (walking) the length of every wall in the place - testing outlets windows and doors as I go. I view the ceiling and wall as I enter and leave, grabbing my tool bag as I leave the space.)

Regarding respirators: I'm not always good at wearing one in crawlspaces, but I have DEFINITELY noticed that, even when the crawlspaces look quite tame, if I don't wear it, when I lay down to sleep at night, I'll be somewhat stopped up (just standard allergies). That's a pretty good reason to wear a respirator in crawlspaces - so you can breathe easy at night.

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Regarding respirators: I'm not always good at wearing one in crawlspaces, but I have DEFINITELY noticed that, even when the crawlspaces look quite tame, if I don't wear it, when I lay down to sleep at night, I'll be somewhat stopped up (just standard allergies). That's a pretty good reason to wear a respirator in crawlspaces - so you can breathe easy at night.

When I began the gig I didn't religiously wear a respirator and I didn't have a P100 filter - only the ordinary filter - on mine. About 2-3 years into the job I'd developed a sort of smoker's hack. I went to the doc and asked why I'd developed a hack - I thought I was coming down with lung cancer or something.

He asked me what I do; I told him. He then asked me if I wear a respirator when I go into attics and crawlspaces; I told him not always. He asked were those places dusty; I said they were. He said, "Wear a respirator; you've developed asthma, Dummy."

I didn't believe him. "Asthma? How the hell could I have asthma? Nobody in my family has ever had asthma; and, other than this hack, I'm healthy as a horse." He replied, "You don't need to inherit asthma; you can get it from exposure to your environment. You go into dusty areas every day without breathing protection and you can't understand why you've developed asthma? Think about it." Then he told me about Hanta Virus.

That afternoon I went out and got P100 filters for that mask and I began to wear it whenever I went into attics and crawlspaces - even if for only a minute or so. In less than a month the hack disappeared and I haven't had the problem since.

DO NOT GO INTO ATTICS AND CRAWLSPACES WITHOUT WEARING A NOSE/MOUTH RESPIRATOR WITH A P100 FILTER!

Want to know why? Google Hanta Virus. A local realtor's son caught it a few years ago when sweeping out the garage. They gave him last rights around midnight of the night that the doctors told the family he was expected to die. Sometime after midnight the fever broke and the next day he came out of the coma. He was lucky; it has something like a 20% mortality rate.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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[br

DO NOT GO INTO ATTICS AND CRAWLSPACES WITHOUT WEARING A NOSE/MOUTH RESPIRATOR WITH A P100 FILTER!

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Yeah, I really need to become religious about this one, as does every home inspector.

Thanks for the admonishment, Mike, which I'll second:

DO NOT GO INTO ATTICS AND CRAWLSPACES WITHOUT WEARING A NOSE/MOUTH RESPIRATOR WITH A P100 FILTER!

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Hi,

I've got two - both pretty basic half-face respirators with P100 filters - AO Safety and 3M. I'll use one until it's time to replace the filter and then I'll switch off until I get around to doing the filters.

One of these days I'm going to splurg and get one of those full-face deals like Jim K. said he uses. I saw a Sperian Surviveair mask in an industrial supply website the other day that interested me.

If I really wanted to waste money on buying a new tool for safety and comfort, I'd probably combine a helmet with a mask that would keep me sweat-free and my glasses not fogged by getting either a Trend Airshield Pro or a 3M Hepa Airstream.

Yeah right, I can see the day I buy one of those and the credit card statement arrives in the mail and my wife reads it. The next day the neighbors would see a very pink hide-looking object nailed to the side of the garage and the trash can would smell suspiciously like decomp.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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My best advice:

Stay away from chiropractors.

Chiropractors are not doctors, they are quacks.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

For the most part, I agree. I've never been to one, but during my bout with my knees, I did get the best advice from my friend who is a chiropractor: use anti-inflammatory drugs as little as possible, since they are pretty hard on the liver, and use ice, which does the same thing in minutes. He was right about ice - almost instant relief. And, I do think there's a LOT to be said about posture. It's something that we all need to work on, and suffer from when we don't maintain it.

He's right about the wallet in the back pocket too! If you've got sciatica, start by removing that wallet from your pocket. It's not good to sit on a lump all day.

But, I'd never let a chiropractor touch me either. [:-graduat

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My small contribution: Move just a little bit slower and bang your head a whole lot less. [:)]

Repetitive motions in home inspections? I wish. Like tapping the deposit keys at the ATM machine, I could use more of that. [:)]

Here's a tip. I use an extension ladder for 2 storey roofs. I've marked the two middle rungs, so I always grab it there and it's always balanced when I lift it off the truck roof rack.

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When walking on a sloped roof, keep your feet parallel to the slope whenever it's safe to do so. It's way less stressful on the ankles & knees.

For those of you with bad knees, sew pockets in the knees of your pants & slip your gel pads into the pockets. Way more comfortable than strap-on knee pads.

And, in case anyone doubts Michael about the one-handed electrical panel cover thing, I believe that was the source of my tendonitis several years ago as well.

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When walking on a sloped roof, keep your feet parallel to the slope whenever it's safe to do so. It's way less stressful on the ankles & knees.

For those of you with bad knees, sew pockets in the knees of your pants & slip your gel pads into the pockets. Way more comfortable than strap-on knee pads.

And, in case anyone doubts Michael about the one-handed electrical panel cover thing, I believe that was the source of my tendonitis several years ago as well.

Isn't that the real problem with repetitive motions in our work? We so easily fall into habits that feel easy and efficient, never really questioning whether they are body friendly movements, until it begins to protest.

That is the intent of this thread - to help inspectors avoid dead end streets. Permit us to spare you the pain.

As, Jim has already suggested in another thread - there's so much more to inspecting than tools.

And, as Kurt has suggested here, it pays to study body machanics a bit and be well aware of what it's capable of, and what it's not capable of.

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My best advice:

Stay away from chiropractors.

Chiropractors are not doctors, they are quacks.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

No sir. They are absolutely not quacks. Not in my book anyway.

The insurance companies don't think so anymore either.

I have nothing against Chiropractors and do appreciate their holistic approach to things. I'd have to be pretty desperate to permit one to begin "MANIPULATING" my spine.

But, for what it's worth, a quick Google will reveal that Jim K lives in one of the most chiropractic friendly states in America... and I quickly concluded that he's probably heard the good, bad and ugly about the subject.

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My best advice:

Stay away from chiropractors.

Chiropractors are not doctors, they are quacks.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

No sir. They are absolutely not quacks. Not in my book anyway.

The insurance companys don't think so anymore either.

In my personal experience, chriopractors are quacks. The practice that is known as chiropractic was, without question, started by a quack. Their treatment methods are not based on science and they cause harm to people on a regular basis. The fact that insurance companies recognize them does not mean that their treatments are valid.

As a teenager, I was nearly paralyzed by a chiropractor who caused severe damage to my lower back -- damage that followed me for the next 36 years. As I screamed in agony after he injured me, he screamed back, told me to "stop overreacting," and said that he would have to charge extra if I made another sound.

My brother, who visited a different chiropractor ended up in a neck brace for 6 weeks because of an "adjustment." (He went into the chiropractor's office with a lower back complaint, not a neck complaint.)

My son, against my strongest warning, went to a chiropractor last year. He went from experiencing chronic pain before the visit, to being unable to move after the visit. The chiropractor told him that this was "normal" and that he'd have to go through the entire course of treatement before he saw improvement. When we asked how long that course of treatment would last, he said that there was no way to tell.

These people are not only quacks, they're stupid quacks.

After my experience, I did some research into chiropractic. It's not a science, it's a belief system based on a fantasy and has absolutely no basis in medical science.

If you've hurt your back, see a doctor (a real one), see a physical therapist, see a massage therapist, see a yoga instructor, heck, if necessary, see a surgeon, but stay away from the nut-jobs who peddle themselves as chiropractors.

Read up on the myth:

http://www.chirobase.org/01General/skeptic.html

http://www.chirobase.org/index.html

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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The first time I went to the quackopractor, it helped. He pushed whatever was out back in, thank you , Sir.

I had been pulling coffee sacks full of oysters into my boat. They're a lot heavier when they're out of the water, eh? And talk about repetitive motions, try that biz for a year or five.

The second and third visits, I came out hurting more than when I went in. Ok, that's enough of that. My back hurt off and on for about 3 years after that, but I learned to take better care of it, and got rid of my oystering habit.

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As a teenager, I was nearly paralyzed by a chiropractor who caused severe damage to my lower back -- damage that followed me for the next 36 years.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

While I have no personal experience with them, my eighty-four year old mom, suffers severely from degenerative back disease. She has no discs left, and while still barely on her feet, she's lost about four inches in height because of her disease. She does not blame it on Chiropractics, but, when a child, she was taken to one and she recalls the experience as being a particularly negative experience. Her ailments caused me, as a child, a lot of rough times, while coming up. She was in so much constant pain that, for months at a time, she simply wasn't available, as a mom - bad times.

But, we're drifting here a bit. Let's avoid the thread becoming too focused on a tangent.

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