Spring cleaning has begun for most Americans. Not many people like doing the housework. For most, it’s a real pain in the aaah … what’s the word? Sacroiliac. But it’s not just the disruption it causes to your longed-for life of leisure; it really can be a pain. Literally. So this year plan to keep your back pain on the shelf.
The activities you carry out around the house may not seem too physically demanding, but if you don’t pay attention to how you are doing them, even something like washing the dishes can put a strain on your back and cause debilitating pain. One of the chief culprits in housework is lifting. It does not matter what you are picking up, if you do it incorrectly you can injure yourself.
First Tip – Lifting
The correct approach is to bend at the knees, not from the waist. The item you’re picking up should be held close in to the body, and there should be no twisting, which can hurt the spine; if you want to turn in another direction, take a step that way once you have straightened up.
More Back Saving Tips
Here are some tips that will help you take the strain out of your household duties:
- When washing the dishes, open the cabinet doors under the sink and bend a knee placing a foot on the raised shelf inside. Also try leaning forward against the counter to transfer some of your weight forward for a little support.
- Similarly, with ironing, use a small stool and raise one foot onto it to take some of the strain from your back.
- When using a vacuum cleaner, adopt the same stance you would see combatants take in a fencing match, one foot stepped back behind the other. Move your weight from one foot to the other as you push the machine back and forward, and pivot on the back foot when you wish to turn.
- Even talking on the telephone can be a problem if you are prone to cradling the handset between your ear and your raised shoulder. Quasimodo was the first one to notice this. The spinal joints in the neck and upper back can lock when you do this. Fortunately, as humans, we have opposing thumbs and can very easily hold objects in our hands. Either that, or use a speaker phone.
- Watching TV with your head resting on the arm of the sofa is not good, because the angle is too acute for your neck joints.
- When your back does start to hurt, use a cold pack. To avoid leaping through the ceiling, first moisten a towel with warm water before encasing the cold pack in it. That way, there will be a gradual transition from warm to cold. A bag of frozen peas is a good alternative, and is easily mold-able to your contours.
Most importantly place the same emphasis that you place on cleaning and maintaining your house to your health. The best advice is to maintain all year round to enjoy the rewards of life with the least amount of expensive repairs.
For Your Health,
Dr. Joseph Gambardella, Dr. Todd Brown and Dr. Benjamin Erb