When you think of a work-related back injury, you probably picture people working on loading docks, in factories, or on construction sites. But the truth is that injuries can happen in all types of settings, and work consists of all different things – including housework. Like the most strenuous and physically taxing occupations, housework often involves bending, twisting and lifting while in awkward positions, and all of those movements can lead to strain and damage to the lower back.
Whether you are performing housework as part of a paid job or if you are simply a person trying to keep their living space tidy, everyday household chores and cleaning can lead to injury to the ligaments, tendons, discs and vertebrae that make up our spine, and once you have hurt yourself those same tasks can make your pain even worse.
Let’s take a look at a few of the most commonly performed household chores to learn the best way to go about them, and what should be avoided in order to minimize your chance of having them cause (or worsen) back pain.
Doing laundry starts with lifting your filled laundry hamper and carrying it from wherever it is to the washing machine. Make sure that when you’re picking the laundry up, you use appropriate form, bending your knees and carrying your laundry directly in front of you.
Once you’re at the machine, position the full laundry basket directly in front of the machine instead of to the side, then load the washer, again bending your knees so that you don’t put additional stress on your back. Follow the same basic guidelines when unloading the machine into an adjacent dryer.
If you load wet laundry into the hamper for line drying, do not try lifting a full basket of wet clothes. Instead, transfer smaller amounts to the line to avoid lifting anything too heavy.
Cooking and Washing Dishes
When working at a kitchen counter, avoid bending and twisting. Keep knees bent with one leg forward of the other a bit, and make sure that you are wearing footwear that has cushioning.
Vacuuming and Mopping
When vacuuming or mopping, keep your body straight and avoid bending from the waist. Keep the vacuum or mop relatively close to your body and walk with it rather than stretching to reach areas.
Do not try to clean an entire house all at once. Instead, choose to clean a room or two at a time, keeping mindful of not twisting or reaching in awkward positions. Take your time and take the extra steps to get closer to what you are cleaning. Use a step stool to put yourself closer to things that are high up instead of reaching for them.
Leaning into a bathtub to clean it is more strenuous than most people realize, especially if there is a tub enclosure limiting your access. Get down onto your knees instead of bending over, and if necessary get into the tub to get to hard-to-reach areas instead of reaching for it and potentially causing yourself unnecessary strain.
If you’re already suffering from back or neck pain, contact New Jersey’s top neck and back pain specialists.