A staggering 90 percent of people in the United States will experience back pain at some point in their lives. What may be even more surprising, however, is that it isn’t always an intense workout or terrible accident that causes pain; everyday activities, such as household chores, can trigger discomfort.
The good news is there are ways to lessen the risk of back pain during these activities. Here are a few simple tricks to stay healthy and pain-free during three common household chores.
Vacuuming and mopping floors
It’s common for people to reach out with their arms while also bending at the waist when mopping or vacuuming, but doing this over and over again can cause back pain. The key is to avoid twisting your back, allowing your hips and shoulders to move toward the work. You can also minimize bending over by stepping one foot forward and bending slightly at the knee (picture a partial lunge). This will let your body stay upright and reduce strain on your back muscles.
Standing hunched over the sink might wreak havoc on your back, aggravating discs in the spine. Luckily, there’s a neat trick many recommend to relieve your back from having to sustain that bend: Simply open the cabinet doors underneath the sink and place one foot inside. This can prevent the discs in the spinal column from becoming aggravated and therefore reduce the risk of injury and pain.
Picking up laundry and tidying up around the house
Similar to other chores around the house, the main risk with laundry and general “putting away” activities is the constant bending at the waist, which repeatedly strains your back muscles. How to avoid this? Think like a golfer. The “golfer’s reach” means balancing yourself by reaching for items with one arm while lifting the opposite leg in the air. This reduces the amount of strain on your back muscles.
Cleaning the house is — for most people — unavoidable. But it can be done in a way that keeps you feeling healthy and pain-free. Pacing yourself, paying attention to your body and making small adjustments to your movements can all help you to avoid back pain.