A good spring clean can work wonders – and not just in terms of tidiness and hygiene. Freshening up your living environment can really lighten your mood and lift the spirits too, but it’s not entirely risk-free, either.

Physiotherapist Steven Berkman, from Boost Physio, notes that at this time of year, there’s always an influx of patients who’ve injured themselves cleaning or gardening. The biggest complaints are shoulder, neck and back problems, as well as general exhaustion and aches and pains from overdoing it.

Keen to avoid doing yourself a mischief when working up that elbow grease? Here are Steven Berkman’s top tips for minimising injury:

Warm up

“Before you get the mop and dusters out, make sure your body’s ready to tackle this very physical task – as with any physical activity, it's good to warm up. A brisk walk will get your muscles ready, or a quick stretch can prepare your muscles for the demands of heavy cleaning and lifting. On the plus side, spring cleaning can be as good as doing a workout, but you need to be careful.”

Break tasks down

“One of the best ways to avoid injuries from repeatedly straining is to break tasks down into manageable bite-sized chunks. Do little and often, take breaks and drink lots of water.”

[Read more: The cheat’s guide to keeping your house clean]

Be mindful of ‘problem areas’

“Know your vulnerable areas. If you already have problems with your back, don't put any unnecessary strain on it - you'll only pay the price for it by possibly causing a worse injury.”

Enlist some help

“Everyone likes a clean home but you don't have to do it all by yourself. Can you delegate some of the tasks? People like to help and now would be a good time to enlist some willing helpers.”

Lift with caution

“Get help with heavy lifting; two people are better than one when there’s a lot of lifting to do. Repeatedly lifting your arms over your head can cause trouble to the shoulder area, you can strain muscles or worse. And remember; always bend your knees when you lift. Lift through your legs, not from your back. If you are straining to lift a heavy box, separate the contents into two boxes instead.”

Protect knees and don’t over-reach

“If you have problems with your knees, or even if you don't, use a cushion or knee pad when scrubbing floors or weeding in the garden, and don't reach too far. While it's good to stretch, it's not good to put strain on your neck or back by stretching too far. Same goes for cleaning windows, stand on a ladder at the level with the window.”

[Read more: What is spring cleaning and why do we do it?]

Mind wet floors

“Don't walk on wet floors - many accidents are caused from slipping on spillages and wet floors. Accidents from slipping can be extremely painful and can lead to torn ligaments and even breaks. Before you wash the floor, make yourself a cup of tea, put it in another room. Then wash the floor, leave it and go and sit down, have a rest and enjoy the tea while the floor dries.”

Don’t ignore pain

“If you find your muscles tensing up, now might be the time to ask for a back rub, or again do some simple stretches to loosen up aching muscles. Mild discomfort can quickly lead to serious pain if you ignore it. Don't push on if something hurts – stop and rest. If you’re in a lot of pain, do not hesitate to get professional help. There is a lot to do at this time of year, but you won't be able to do anything if you have injured yourself.”

Have you ever injured yourself cleaning or gardening? Tell us about it in the comments below…