Before you put your back into your spring clean, read this article for tips to help prevent back pain.

Household chores are such a basic part of everyday life that it’s easy to switch into autopilot mode to get them done. The trouble is, if you’re thinking about the cup of tea you’re going to enjoy afterwards, or if you’re rushing to finish a task, you might not be thinking about protecting your back. Back issues don’t always occur when lifting heavy weights at the gym or attempting other highly strenuous tasks – sometimes they can strike at home when carrying out simple chores. Here are five everyday household chores that might lead to back pain, and steps you can take to minimise your risk.

1. Gardening

Gardening can be immensely enjoyable, and there’s nothing like watching flowers bloom and veggies grow as a result of your efforts. However, all that bending over can strain the back, so remember to take good care.

  • Keep your back straight rather than rounding it.
  • Take regular breaks to stretch.
  • If you’re doing any potting work, find a workbench instead of kneeling on the ground.

2. Vacuuming

The act of reaching down, pushing and pulling with your arms, and twisting and moving is the perfect recipe for back pain. But, you don’t need to live with dirty floors – just spend some time perfecting your vacuuming technique.

  • Use the extension on your vacuum nozzle, so you’re not bending over to hold it.
  • Use your legs to bend lower while keeping your back upright whenever possible.
  • Be sure to turn your whole body in the direction of the vacuum, rather than twisting your back.

3. Making the bed

Making a bed involves a lot of bending over, tugging and pulling sheets into place, and tucking duvets under at the edges. Much like other chores, the more pressure you can take off your back, the better.

  • Switch sides rather than leaning across the bed.
  • Use a knee or your other arm to prop yourself up as you work.
  • Move directly in front of the area you’re working on rather than twist your back to reach it.

4. Laundry

Will the piles of laundry ever end? No matter how large and daunting that laundry pile looks, the most important thing to remember is to protect your wellbeing – it’s not worth shaving a little time off your chores if it means a week of bed rest to recover!

  • When unloading a top loader machine, use one arm to prop yourself up rather than let your back take all the weight.
  • For front loaders, crouch down and keep your back straight. Be mindful of how heavy that laundry basket is (make it two loads if it’s too much!).
  • Always bend with the knees.
  • Once outside, put the laundry basket on a stool to avoid twisting and bending to the ground as you hang clothes out to dry.

5. Washing the car

From carrying a heavy bucket of water to reaching and twisting as you scrub lower areas of the car, there are certainly risks for your back. The same tips apply:

  • Bend at the hips rather than rounding your back.
  • Crouch or kneel rather than bending all the way over.
  • Move around the car so you’re always working on the section directly in front of you (rather than leaning over).
  • Also, don’t forget to take short breaks and stretch!

Treating back pain

If you regularly experience back pain when doing chores, you might benefit from visiting a physio or chiropractor for advice, strengthening exercises, and treatment. Muscle rubs or an over-the-counter pain relief medication could also help alleviate the discomfort.

Disclamer: This content is for informational purposes only and should not substitute advice from your healthcare professional. If symptoms persist or you require specialist advice, please consult your healthcare professional.

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