Do you always grumbling on the never-ending, boring and tedious housework? Have you ever been stopped by the unbearable pain and was forced to swallow pain-killers just to make yourself struggle through while washing the dishes? If you are, then perhaps it time to sit down and ask yourself this question, “How can I prevent lower back pain during housekeeping at home?”
Generally, the reason why these routine household activities can triggered off your back is because you may not be conscious or aware how you used your body. If you noticed, dusting your bookshelves, vacuuming or mopping the floor, putting the clothes in the washing machine involve repetitive motions like pushing, carrying, bending, twisting or lifting.
Imagine these motions are repeated continuously every day down to every hour, it is no surprise that this can set your back off easily, leaving you with chronic pain. As such, in order to protect your back and prevent any further back injuries, you should learn to be more conscious of how your body moves to perform the tasks.
Housekeeping Tip #1: Plan your routine activities ahead and know your limits
You should make a schedule of the tasks to be completed and plan for interval breaks. Do some simple stretching or walking around helps to relax your tense muscles. Avoid cleaning the whole house at once. For example, you can clean the living room today and the kitchen the next day.
When you are not in pain, organize your heavy and frequently used cleaning supplies within reach. It will be a great idea to use a light-weight bucket to put the supplies but avoid over-loading it. Make sure that you are able to lift it without straining your back. By doing this, you it will eliminate the necessity of bending under the sink, twist and over-stretch yourself to reach the shelves.
If there is a need to reach for items in the top shelves, keep your abdominals contracted and lift your heels off the floor, using your toes to support. In fact, the most appropriate advice is to keep a small, light-weight stepladder. This helps to minimize the strain on your back and joints.
Avoid spending too much time on only one chore, especially one with a repetitive motion such as sweeping or mopping. Changing your position or posture helps to minimize muscle tension or stiffness that can aggravate and hurt your back. For example, you can try dusting for 10 to 15 minutes and then take a break. Then you can either go back to dusting or move on to sweeping or vacuuming.
While doing your chores that require standing, always keep your feet at should-width apart and avoid twisting. Should you need to lift anything, you should keep your knees bent by utilizing the power of your legs instead of your back. The trick is to take note of the appropriate postures and seek help when it is necessary.
Wear loose or comfortable clothing and footwear while cleaning makes you feel “relaxed” psychologically. Therefore, it helps to reduce tension in your joints and muscles. Besides, you should remember to breathe! In fact, most people do not realize that sometimes they hold their breath while doing the task.
Housekeeping Tip #2: Get yourself a light-weight vacuum
Vacuuming can be the most annoying task since it required you to hunch over with a repetitive motion for quite some time. And before you knew it, your back pain is aggravated after lugging the heavy and vibrating vacuum a few spots in your house.
As such, it is always good to spend some money to get a light-weight vacuum that you can handle and lug around with ease. Try to get those with long cords as it minimizes the frequency of stooping down to change the plug around the house. You can also consider using an extension cord.
While using the vacuum, you should stand upright and contract your abdominals. With this posture, use your arms and legs instead of your back when pushing and pulling the vacuum. When vacuuming, adopt a lunge position and rely on the machine for support. Place one foot in front, shift your weight onto that foot and then push off with your back foot. Continue in this posture as you vacuum back and forth.
If you are vacuuming the carpet or rug, do one side first and turn around in another direction. Though it may take a longer time, it actually helps to avoid the numerous push and pull motions that can aggravate your lower back.
Vacuuming the stairs is the most tricky and tedious especially if you are not using the light-weight vacuum cleaner. It is recommended to use a canister-type vacuum with the attachment hose. You should bend your knees slightly and then go up the steps, keeping one foot on one step and the other on the step below it. Try not to hunch over.
Otherwise, if you do not have any knee problems, you can also kneel on each step with a knee protection pad. While vacuuming, make sure that your abdominals are contracted. If kneeling is not comfortable for you, try sitting down on the step then. As you can see, the trick to avoid lower back pain while vacuuming is to be creative and adopt different postures than the usual ones.
Housekeeping Tip #3: Change your mop and broom with a long handle
Mopping and sweeping is as tough as vacuuming since you have to hunch over repeatedly. Therefore, this can strained your back without you even knowing it. Quite often, you only realize that your back is aching when you stand up after you are done with your sweeping and mopping.
Get a mop or broom with a long handle. When you are mopping or sweeping, you should contract your abdominals and stand upright. When sweeping, if you need to twist to the side, bend your knees and your arms and legs. When reaching for the dustpan on the floor, bend your knees first and slowly move to squat position.
Though it may sound weird, but you can use the sink to wring the mop out and re-wet it. Alternatively, if you want to stick to using the bucket, then adopt squatting position instead of bending over.
Keep your knees slightly bent and keep the mop or broom close to you while working on it. Try not to reach too far out with your mop or broom. Make it a habit to keep moving while mopping and sweeping so as to avoid the tendency of over-stretching your back muscles. Otherwise, mop or sweep small sections at a time.
Housekeeping Tip #4: Plan your laundry load
Arrange big and heavy detergent bottles so that they are easy to reach. If stretching and reaching is necessary, then you should use your feet, lift your heels and go up on your toes.
Do not overload your laundry basket which makes it too heavier for you to carry. To lift the basket up from the floor, you should squat down while keeping your abdominals contracted, carry the basket close to your chest level before you stand up.
Try to avoiding bending by placing the laundry basket on a table when sorting out your clothes. Otherwise, squat down instead of bending down when transferring the clothes into the washing machine.
If you want to unload the laundry, go for few pieces at a time as wet clothes are heavier. For those front-loading models, try to squat when unloading and put the basket near you so as to minimize twisting.
Housekeeping Tip #5: Unload the groceries on a counter or table top
Generally, unloading or unpacking the groceries involves a lot of twisting, stretching or bending as you try to organize the groceries into the fridge compartments or kitchen shelves. The tips is try to plan your storage, get organized and place your groceries near to your frequently used storage spot.
When unloading items out from the bag, try to use both hands for heavy items. If you find that your back started to get strained, place one knee on a chair to brace yourself. When placing items on a high shelf, avoid reaching up with your knees locked and arms outstretched. Try to tiptoe or use a stool instead.
Housekeeping Tip #6: Place all cooking utensils near you
Interestingly, cooking may seem easy but it can actually strain your back easily if you are not careful. Imagine you are trying to pull a heavy toast turkey out of the oven by bending down, this can hurt your back unconsciously.
Standing while you are cooking can be tedious especially when the food required longer preparation time. As such, try to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Try not to remain standing in a fixed position. It is recommended to prop one knee up or foot on a chair and switch every few minutes.
Housekeeping Tip #7: Rest your one foot on the chair while washing the dishes
This chore can leads to pain in your back as you need to go up and down with the dishes, bending to load and unload from the dishwasher or standing to wash the dishes in the sink.
When washing dishes at the sink, get a chair and placed it near you. This is for you to rest one foot or knee and alternate every few minutes. Again, you should stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your abdominal contracted.
If you are using a dishwasher, using a chair is quite useful as you can load the dirty dishes by sitting down. Alternatively, you can also squat down. (The same applies when you are unloading from the dishwasher) Place all the dishes on the counter first before you organize them back onto the dish rack.
Housekeeping Tip #8: Use the right outdoor equipment
From raking the leaves, mowing the lawn down to shoveling the snow, outdoor chores can be frustrating as it seems never ending for you. Besides, it required extra efforts and energy which will tire you out and lead to back injuries easily. Therefore, the rule is: “Know your limit and never force yourself or overdo it!”
Shoveling snow is considered a strenuous task especially in a cold weather when you will tends to hunch over with all your muscles group being tense up. As such, it is recommended to do some warming exercises for 5 to 10 minutes before you head out in the cold.
Get an appropriate shovel according to the size of your build which is long enough so that you need not bend over that much to scope the snow. Try not to shovel too much load which you cannot handle with ease. This helps to prevent any strain on your back.
While shoveling, keep your feet shoulder-width apart and bend at the knees when pushing the snow. When lifting the shovel up, use the power from your legs with your knees slightly bent. When getting the snow off the shovel, avoid bending from your waist with your legs. Instead, bend your legs and contract your abdominals.
It is advisable to take many break intervals and drink more water to stay hydrated. If you feel any joints or muscles pain, you should stop immediately and rest. Pain is a signal that your body is not able to sustain further stress or load.
Raking leaves is another extreme task which can be tough on your back. Always do some warm up and stretch your muscles. By now, you should know that you need a rake with a long handle that is not too heavy for you. A long handle is helps to prevent you from bending too much and eliminate sore back. When dropping the leaves in the bag, always bend your knees and contract your abdominals.
Mowing the lawn may seem easy to some people as it is just pushing and pulling the machine around. But that is not true! In fact, there are many people who hurt their back due to many unnatural postures that put strain on your back.
The very first thing before you start mowing is to ensure that you are not too short to reach for the handle or too tall that make you hunch over. You can always get handle extenders at hardware stores which can be easily attach to the machine.
When mowing around, you should always use both hands to push forward or pull backwards. Try to minimize the frequency of pulling backwards as it adds on more stress to your back. When turning a lawn mower, a wide arc is preferred over than a twisting turn.
As you can see from the tips above, it is easy to prevent back pain during housekeeping as long as you are conscious about your movements and posture. Besides, you should avoid rushing yourself to complete the housework. Remember, slow and steady will save you from back pain suffering.
In fact, no matter how much you complete today, there is always more to do tomorrow or thereafter. So judge yourself and plan ahead to have a pain-free back rather than just aiming for a “shiny” house and “sparking yard” at the end of the day!