7 Everyday Tasks Made Easy
Even if you’re not an athlete in the sporty sense of the word, you likely attempt daily feats that require a fair amount of strength, stability, balance and endurance.
Aside from the threat of embarrassment, the last thing you want to do is injure yourself trying to complete a routine chore like, say, replacing an empty water cooler in your office or shoveling the walk. We’ve got you covered. With advice from a performance specialist, a nutritionist, and even a dog care expert, here’s what you need to know to perform better and reduce your potential for injury during life’s everyday challenges.
1. Popping open tight jars with ease
What you need: Grip strength and stability through your torso.
How to train: Nobody believes you when you say “oh, I loosened it up for you.” Rather than admit defeat, performance specialist Nick Anthony suggests towel pull-ups to strengthen your hands, wrists and forearms. Loop two towels over a pull-up bar and perform pull-ups while gripping the towels. If that’s too tough, try towel plate holds. Drape a towel over a weight plate, pick it up, and hold it out directly in front of you for 30 to 60 seconds.
2. Replacing the Water Jug
What you need: Hip and shoulder stability.
How to train: If you’ve just finished off the last drop, it’s time to replace the jug without ruining your rep or hurting yourself. The problem is these things are heavy—a typical 5 gallon jug is about 40 lbs—and it requires precision not to spill. Anthony suggests dumbbell deadlifts and dumbbell alternating curl to overhead presses. “Deadlifts mimic that initial lifting motion and the split curl to press will build the hip stability and shoulder strength needed as you transition the jug to the next phase.”
For shoulder protection, he says to do Shoulder Ys, Ts, and Ws. “As you move the jug away from you, the weight is placing more and more stress on the shoulder joint. These movements are essential for reducing your chance of injury.”
3. Finishing the all-day to-do list
What you need: Proper fuel
How to eat: Get through your household to-do list—the entire list—by staying fueled up and energized all day long. “Snack on a combo of carbs, protein and fat every three hours,” says resident nutritionist Amanda Carlson-Phillips. “This keeps energy levels stable, the brain focused and hunger at bay.”
“You also want to stay hydrated with drinks that come from the earth and not a factory, i.e. water,” says Carlson. “And finally, choose foods that are naturally high in fiber, like whole wheat bread, beans, fruits, vegetables and nuts.”
4. Carrying laundry up and down the stairs
What you need: Hip mobility and pillar strength
How to train: Carrying a heavy load can put quite a bit of stress on your lower back. Movements that strengthen your core, like quadruped opposites and front and lateral Pillar Bridges, can help protect your spine from compensating, says Anthony.
5. Catching an off-the-leash dog.
What you need: A sharper wit than the dog
What to do: With most breeds, speed and agility aren’t going to work. You’ve got to outsmart them. “If the dog is playing keep-away, the best thing to do is ignore them and they will come to you for attention,” says Rob Galesky, founder of Doggie Day in Boston.
Chasing an excited dog just continues the game and increases the chances they’ll run towards traffic, which is exactly what you should be worried about. “If the dog is obsessed with something such as food or a ball, get whatever they are obsessed with and begin a game to sidetrack them,” he says. “Or, if there is an enclosed area or you can call or corral them into, do it. Who cares if it may be a coffee shop. A couple of eaten scones are better than a loose dog in the city.”
6. Shoveling a snowy walkway
What you need: A good warm-up
How to train: It’s slippery and cold. No wonder Anthony sees the greatest potential for injury in this feat. He says the best way to reduce your potential for injury is with a quality dynamic warm-up—what we call “movement prep.” Before you head outside, use movements like the “world’s greatest stretch”, handwalks, and backward lunges to prepare your body to move.
You might think that with all the pushing and pulling involved that shoveling is mostly an upper-body task, but using your legs is just as important. “Your form will inevitably break down as you get tired,” says Anthony. “By watching your technique and remembering to use your legs, you’ll significantly reduce your chance of injury.”
Take breaks as needed. It’s important that you don’t overexert yourself. After all, there’s no glory in being the fastest shovel-jockey on the block.
7. The heavy luggage haul
What you need: Strength and stability in your legs and torso
How to train: Split squats are great for building leg strength and stability, says Anthony. Add dumbbell split squats to your routine, and place your rear foot on a bench or chair behind you for a greater challenge. Watch this video to learn how to do it.
This feat is another opportunity for your mechanics to break down, especially when you’re running late. You can help curb this with proper alignment. Keep your ears above your shoulders and your shoulders above your hips, says Anthony. "Avoid hunching over. Stand tall with your chest up and your shoulders pulled back."
About The Author
Evan Gray – Evan Gray is the Associate Producer for CorePerformance.com. He joined the Digital Media team in 2008 from Going.com.