Taking care of a household chore, no matter how cumbersome or time-consuming, creates a sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, for many people, some chores also leave them with back pain. If you have chronic back pain or a degenerative spinal condition, your chances of being in agony after a day of house cleaning, or even just a chore or two, are far more likely.
Here are some of the most notable offenders when it comes to household chores that cause back pain:
Vacuuming, Sweeping, and Mopping
According to carpet manufacturers, the rule of thumb is that you should be vacuuming as many days a week as there are residents of your home, including pets. If you have a full house, you should be vacuuming daily. Chances are, if you don’t vacuum regularly, you try to make up for all the skipped days by doing a ton of vacuuming at one time.
Vacuuming the floor is a great calorie-burning workout, especially if you’re working quickly and moving the sweeper vigorously. Alas, awkward, repetitive twisting and reaching too far can strain your back. And if your machine is not at an ergonomically friendly height or requires some serious effort to push around, you’re working your back much harder than you should be. Stand up straight, avoid bending and pushing, and use your legs, not your back, to move the vacuum back and forth.
Sweeping and mopping are as back-unfriendly as vacuuming, for all the same reasons. Mops and brooms are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to ergonomically incorrect tools. You bend to wring out a mop, and bend and stretch to reach under tables with a duster or sweeper. If the mop or broom handle is too short, your back will suffer.
Doing the Dishes
You cooked yourself a healthy, nutritious meal which helps minimize back and neck pain and keeps your body running well. Cleaning up your meal, however, is another story. Reaching over the sink to clean dishes puts a strain on your lower back. If you can prop a foot up with one knee bent on a lower cabinet ledge or a stool, you’ll relieve some spinal pressure that you didn’t even realize this household chore was creating.
Alternating position while doing dishes or cooking for long periods of time, like standing on one foot or widening your stance, can help avoid repeated stress on the same muscles.
Cleaning the Tub
Tubs are not self-cleaning and sometimes they need a good scrubbing. To avoid getting wet or too dirty, people clean the inside of the tub from the outside, reaching over the side. They stretch and twist to get to all the corners and scrub away grime and build-up. Sitting or squatting in the tub is a better option for your back (and will probably get your tub cleaner too).
And, ask any parent of a young child who bathes them in the tub – they are likely to admit that reaching into the tub to give their little one a bath takes a major toll on their back.
Addressing Back Pain at Its Root
Household chores of all sorts can kill your back, from doing laundry to yardwork, shoveling to painting. Sure, household chores can cause isolated back pain temporarily, but these activities can exacerbate existing back pain when you don’t address underlying causes. Poor posture, chronic strain, and repetitive motion all add up over time, creating muscle imbalances and eventually blooming into serious pain like a herniated disc.
It is possible to accomplish tasks and much more without taxing your spine, you just have to know how to make it happen. The functional medicine team at the Restorative Wellness Center in Ann Arbor will give you the tools to develop a healthy lifestyle, free from back pain. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Daniel Geck.