Start Slow and Warm-up
Warming-up your body before you start any type of exercise or physical activity is incredibly important. We recommend you start by doing some light stretches – why not check out our Facebook page for more stretching ideas at www.Facebook.com/TauntonChiropracticClinic. Make sure you start with slower, lighter tasks before diving into those more intense task that involve reaching and lifting.
Divide heavy loads
Divide heavy loads into a smaller, more manageable size to carry! Although it may be tempting to “save a trip” by carrying a large load of laundry up the stairs all at once or all the groceries from the car into the house, dividing up your work and taking multiple trips might save your back which, in our opinion, is more worth it than “saving a trip”. Another obvious but less utilised tip is to ask for help and don’t be afraid to divide the work between people! When carrying any load, no matter how small or large, remember to bend from your hips and knees, while keeping your back straight and core (tummy muscles) tight at all times. Remember to use both hands and keep the load as close to your torso as possible. This helps to keep the load close to your centre of gravity and minimise the strain on your back.
Don’t try to cram everything into one day
You might consider yourself a check-list “do-er” or “over achiever” when it comes to many things, including cleaning. Just ask our Chiropractor Phil about this! Try not to do everything all at once. The more sensible and realistic thing to do is to make a BIG list then break up chores into daily goals that are SMART. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. In short, being SMART could help to save you pain and discomfort when in comes to your body! Investing as little as 30 minutes of each day to focus on household tasks or other errands can reduce your stress and greatly reduce your risk of injury and fatigue. You might even find that focussing on a small task or two each day actually gives you more energy to perform that task more efficiently and effectively.
Take some breaks – Have a coffee or cup of tea!
Maintain proper posture
Brace your tummy, keep your core tight and spine neutral.
This advice holds true for many activities and postures, cleaning included! Certain chores in particular can increase your likelihood of injury, based on the sheer awkwardness of the task and positional strain subjected on your body. For example, vacuuming and mopping the floors tends to encourage excessive forward bending, pulling, pushing, reaching and twisting, often with your body angled to one side. So, rather than stretching out your arms and bending with your back, try holding the vacuum or mop handle close to your body with both hands, at approximately your belly-button height, and walk back and forth with it.
For tasks like cleaning the bath and dusting awkward places, avoid leaning and reaching awkwardly. You could use cleaning tools with a long handle so you can perform the chore while keeping your back in a safe neutral position. Another tip for cleaning the bath is to lean your chest on the bath edge while cleaning so your body weight is transmitted through the bath rather than your low back. Avoid excessive twisting and keep a relaxed, neutral spine, with your core tight at all times, while performing these activities. We know this is difficult to do, but taking a few extra minutes to get things right could save you a whole load of pain later!
Use your legs, not your back
Instead of bending at the waist, use your legs to squat or lunge. Squatting or lunge down onto one knee while cleaning at low level can distribute force away from your low back and neck. This is also useful in the garden when weeding, why not read our ‘Gardening’ article for more info on this.
Use both hands!
Whenever and wherever possible, use both sides of your body to complete your chores, in order to avoid unwanted strain to your shoulders, neck and back. Overuse injuries can be avoided by switching between your dominant and non-dominant hand when possible as well. Sometimes a bit tricky but worth trying.
We hope you find this information useful and remember this is generalised information, not specific individualised advice. If you require more specific advice please contact us at the clinic for an appointment where we will be more than happy to provide you with personalised specific advice to help you meet your goals. Simply call our friendly reception team on 01823 333973.