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How to make sure those daily housework chores do not result in back pain

by Jeremy James

back painWhether you have help with your housework or do everything yourself, there will be routine tasks that you simply cannot avoid that will put your back at risk if not done with care. Household chores work your body in many different ways and can be a useful workout. Carrying laundry up and down the stairs, twisting and turning when using the vacuum cleaner; stretching to dust on top of the furniture, and picking up items from the floor and tidying them away to their rightful place.

If you already have back pain you will definitely be aware of it when doing the housework, and there are ways that we can help you with this. But it also pays to ward off any potential problems by learning how to do your daily chores in a back-friendly way. Generally, our overall suggestion is to never to stay in one position for long, and to build strength by alternating the arms and legs that you use for your various tasks. Do not overreach or bend unnecessarily. Here are some more specific useful tips:

Using the vacuum cleaner or mop

To make sure cleaning with a vacuum does not place any strain on your body, the first thing you need to do is make sure you hold it with both hands, not one. Avoid twisting about when pushing the vacuum cleaner and do not bend or push with force. It is best to stand totally upright and move from your legs not your back, so that your back remains in a stable position. Similarly, if you are mopping the floor, then use the same movement, but make sure the handle of the mop is long enough so that you avoid any unnecessary bending.

Doing the dishes

For those who use the sink to do their dish cleaning then the most important thing is to ensure that the counter top is at waist height to avoid leaning. If this isn’t possible, put one knee onto a stool (bent) and avoid a build-up of pressure on your back. If you use a dishwasher, then your technique needs to be such that you squat rather than bend over when putting the dishes in or taking them out of the machine.

Changing the bedding

This onerous regular chore needs to be done with care and time needs to be taken. It is best to avoid leaning over the bed when taking off or putting on the sheets, as the reaching, bending and twisting that occurs from a distance places strain on your back. Approach each corner of the bed separately and from close range.

Jobs that require reaching from a height- dusting, window cleaning and hedge trimming

These types of jobs all need to be carried out without any overreaching, or arching of the back, so the most important thing to do is make sure you use a ladder or step stool to take you to the correct height. Also ensure that whatever cleaning tool you are using (duster, chamois leather, hedge cutter, etc) is kept close to your body when being used, and avoid an overextension of your arm as this will place further strain on your back.

If you do experience back pain when doing the housework then you will need to address the underlying issues causing the pain. But right now, you can at least start to perform them differently and avoid further stress or damage to your spine and discs. If you would like tackle your back pain then call us to arrange an appointment on  0121 705 4499.