How Can I Hurt My Back while Cleaning?
Grocery shopping, washing the car, mowing the lawn, cleaning the house – there is a reason why all of these tasks are called “chores.” For most adults, these, along with a bunch of other activities that are not so enjoyable, are a part of life that are unavoidable. However, if you have chronic back pain that you suffer from due to a degenerative spinal condition or from an injury, then you probably are already aware that some chores are very harsh on your back and not just simply time-consuming.
Fortunately it is possible to learn some healthy ways to get certain tasks done without putting too much stress on your back. Even better is that many of these activities may actually help your back by doing physical exercises that burns calories and strengthens your core while you are cleaning.
We don’t have any tips for you on how to love cleaning. However, we can definitely provide you with some tips on how to protect yourself against neck and back pain while you are doing your household chores. Simply follow the tips below.
Some Tips for Preventing Back Pain while Doing Your Household Chores
It is never fun to clean your house, but it is something that has to be done. If you are responsible for keeping your house clean, then keep the following tips in mind to protect yourself from developing back pain.
1. Know Your Limits and Plan Out Routine Activities
Make a schedule that includes all of the tasks that you need to complete and add in breaks on a regular basis as well. Wear loose and comfortable footwear and clothing. It will make you feel relaxed psychologically as well as help to reduce tension in your muscles and joints.
A very important aspect in avoiding getting injured is to know what your limits are. If you are start feeling fatigued and exhausted, then that is a sign that you need to stop physically working. After you body starts to become fatigued, it results in your muscles not being able to handle as much work and they will fail faster. That can lead to pain and injury.
2. Before and after You Do You Spring Cleaning, Perform Some Gentle Stretches
Yard work and housework can be just as hard on the body as exercising is. Just like you need to stretch before and after you exercise in order to avoid injuring yourself, you should do some gentle stretch before and also after you do your housework chores. Some of the most important areas that you should stretch before you start on your spring cleaning include your legs, back, shoulders and neck.
3. Use the Correct Lifting Techniques
Using improper lifting techniques is a common causes of back injuries and pain, so be sure to spend time learning how to lift properly. Always bend from your knees instead of your waist, with your back kept straight. Your legs should be used for the lifting work, instead of your back. Heavy items should be held close to your body, and whenever you are holding something heavy you should avoid doing any twisting. If an object needs to be moved to the side, then your whole bod should be turned to the side. Have somebody help you any time you need to move furniture or anything heavy. So try moving heavy items by yourself.
4. Whenever Possible Avoid Reaching and Bending
The more you move towards your side or move forward when you are bending, the more stress gets placed on your back, which includes the joints, discs, ligaments and muscles. Try doing as many activities as you can either standing upright or sitting down. For instance, do as much mopping standing up, and only get down on the floor when any additional scrubbing and cleaning is really necessary. You can also try to use a mop or a similar type of device for cleaning the shower or tub. If reaching high-up places is necessary, use a ladder or step stool. Don’t strain trying to reach it. Rather than bending down repeatedly to pick up children’s toys,crawl on the ground and pick them up so you can avoid doing repetitive bending motions. When you limit the amount of reaching and bending you need to do while you are cleaning, it will reduce the risk of pulling or straining your back muscles.
Gather all of the items that you need in advance. Be sure to have all of the tools that you need within reach so you won’t have to run around looking for them to bend over to get them. Your cleaning items should all be within reach as well as you don’t have to reach or bend to get them. To sort or fold laundry, try doing it at a counter top or table so you can reach whatever you need to from a seated or standing position while also maintaining good posture. The best thing to do is to limit as much strain on your back as possible as well as avoiding doing as little bending, reaching or twisting as you can.
5. Keep Supplies in Every Room They are Needed
Keep a supply of clothes, sponges and gloves in each of the major rooms you will need them in like the kitchen and bathroom to help reduce the amount of going up and down the stairs or back and forth searching for items. This will save on your back as well as on your time. Think about having a lightweight carryall so that you can take items with you from one room to the next. Have a good all-purpose cleaner on hand as well so that it isn’t necessary to haul around 10 different sprays and bottles.
6. Be Careful when Cleaning Hard to Reach and High Surfaces.
Don’t stand on the top part of a ladder when needing to clean high places. Instead use a dependable and safe ladder or step-stool. Don’t stop on top of a wobbly chair. Be sure to have stable surface for standing on to lower the risk of falling and injuring yourself. Be sure that your ladder or step stool is on an even surface so that it doesn’t slide out from under you. Don’t try to climb on top of furniture that weren’t designed to be used for that purpose.
7. Doing Laundry
Have large and heavy bottles of detergent arranged so that they are very easy to reach. If it is necessary to reach and stretch, be sure to use both of your feet, rise up on your toes and lift your heels. Don’t overload the laundry basket so that it is too heavy to carry. When lifting the basket off of the floor, make sure to squat down and keep your abdominal muscles contract. Before standing up make sure you are holding the basket at chest level.
Avoid bending by putting your laundry basket up on a table while you are sorting and folding the clothes. Or squat instead of bending down whenever you are transferring clothes from the washing machine. To unload laundry, only do a few items at a time since wet clothes are heavy. For a front-loading model, try squatting while unloading and place the basket close to you so you minimize the amount of twisting that you have to do.
8. Vacuuming, Mopping, Raking, and Shoveling
It is hard to imagine that some of the most common back pain flare-ups come from the chores of shoveling, raking, vacuuming, and mopping. This is dues to the fact that these types of activities require the same repeated movements of bending at the waist. In order to avoid this type of strain on the muscles, it is essential to keep the hips and shoulders moving in the same direction as which you are working. While it may be difficult, you are going to want to stay upright as opposed to bending over. It is possible to also do a partial lunge while standing up if that makes it easier. You may also want to invest in tools that are going to be easier to grip while remaining light to hold.
One factor is to use a mop or broom with a long handle. When you are either mopping or sweeping, you want to contract your abdominals while standing straight. As you sweep, if you must twist to the side, try bending your knees with your arms and legs. As you reach for the dustpan on the floor, bend your knees as you slowly squat to the floor.
You can also use robotic vacuums and other cleaning robots.
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9. Protecting Your Back while Scrubbing Dishes
Have you ever had the feeling that your kitchen sink is never going to get emptied out? If you are spending way too much time at the kitchen sink, you will want to stand as straight as possible as opposed to bending down to scrub your pots and pans. For some of you, you may have to open up the cabinet doors and place your feet inside and squat just a bit lower to help keep your back straight. You may feel a bit silly and awkward, but this type of pose is essential to rid yourself of back and neck pain. You may also want to use a padded floor mat for extra protection.
While you are washing dishes at the sink, you are going to want to have a chair nearby. This chair can be used as a place to rest either a foot or a knee at regular intervals. Once again, you should stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while keeping your abdominal muscles contracted.
If you use a dishwasher for your cleaning duties, having a chair to sit in while you load it up can be quite helpful as well. In addition, you can always try a squatting position. For added comfort, it is best to place all of the dishes on the counter before they are placed onto the dish rack.
10. Using the Right Equipment Outdoors
If you are going to be working in the garden, it is best to try and focus on the axilla and leg armpits. However, when you are feeling fatigued it is time to take a break. It is best to take some time and stretch out your muscles but remember not to twist while your feet are in the ground. Likewise, it is best to try not to bend over while you are standing, instead sit on the ground as you work.
As you shovel, you are going to want to keep your feet should-width apart and bend your knees as you shovel. As you lift the shovel up, you are going to want to use the power from your legs and bend your knees. As you try to remove the snow from your shovel, avoid bending from your waist with your legs. It is better to bend your legs while you are contracting your abdominals.
You may not think that raking the leaves could damage your back. Before you begin this task, try to warm up and stretch your muscles. As with the other tools, you will want a long handled rake that is not too heavy. A longer handle is essential to not having to bend so much while eliminating a sore back. As you drop the leaves into a bag, you will want to bend your knees as you once again contract the abs.
Mowing the lawn seems to be an easy task as you are just pulling and pushing. However, this is far from the truth. There are many people who are going to hurt themselves due to the unnatural positions they are going to place on their body.
Before you begin, you want to ensure that the mower is at the right height, this means not being too high or too low. If the machine is too low, you can purchase handle extenders to make it easier to reach to prevent you from hunching over.
As you mow the lawn, you will want to use both hands for pushing and pulling. Try not to pull the machine backwards as this is the number one way to put extra strain on your back. As you turn the lawn mower, you want to use a wide arc as opposed to twisting.
11. Don’t Over Exert Yourself
If you are working on a big project, you are not going to want to try and do everything at once. Try to break things up into smaller projects to make things easier. You may even want to create themed projects for the day. As you simplify your tasks into bite-sized chunks, you are going to feel as though you have accomplished much more.
If you are getting tired, take a break and be sure to drink a lot of fluids to help keep yourself hydrated. It may be hard to believe, but cleaning and doing regular chores can lead to easily fatigued muscles. Let your back and the rest of your body have several breaks throughout the day to ensure you do not get fatigued.
This is designed to make the chore take a bit longer, but it will help protect your body and muscles
12. Ask for Help
Do not feel as though there is anything wrong with asking for some help as you try to take on your daily tasks. You need to know what you can do and not over exert yourself from chores. If you ask for help, you are going to be able to get all you need done without the pain to your body.
As you have seen from the tips above, it is possible to work around the house without the pain you have felt in the past. You just need to know what you can accomplish and take the time to do it slowly. If you work at a slow pace, you will be able to stop your back from hurting.
If the pain is severe, it is best to talk to a physician as soon as possible. Remember that your health should always be a priority over everything else. If you believe you have strained a muscle, be sure to use heat and anti-inflammatory medications. If the pain does not go away within a few days, it is time to talk to a physician.
Remember, there is no need to get everything done at once, you always have a new day waiting.
I am Lucas. I was once a back pain sufferer, but that is all in the past. I created BestforBackPain.com to help others find relief without going to physical therapy or expensive medical treatments that are often hit or miss.
Last update on 2019-07-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API