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When you hear the word “back-breaking,” you probably think of lifting weights and other heavy objects, manual labor and other activities that put substantial wear and tear on the body. Chores usually aren’t the first thing that come to mind, but they can actually do some serious damage to your back, especially if you’ve already been dealing with back problems.
The reason for this is that many common household chores, such as sweeping, vacuuming and mopping, can put you in awkward positions. They don’t cause immediate effects, and instead it’s an accumulation of minor strain.
If you’re finding your back sore after a day of chores or you simply want to take preventative measures to avoid future problems, these tips will help.
- Warm Up Before You Do Your Housework
The thought of warming up before housework may sound ridiculous, but chores are a physical activity, and you even burn calories while you do them. It’s a good idea to get the blood flowing first so that your body is loose and you don’t hurt yourself making any sudden movements.
One of the best ways to warm up is a few dynamic stretches. These can include arm rotations, kicking your legs straight up and reaching down to touch your toes a few times. Your warmup should only take five to 10 minutes, and it’s worth the time.
- Never Bend at Your Waist
It’s easy to get into the habit of bending at the waist and curling your back, but this is the worst thing you can do to your back. Instead, you need to keep your back straight, which is why it’s important to stand upright while vacuuming and doing similar tasks.
It may feel like you can’t stand this way and still vacuum, but all you need to do is widen your feet a bit and bend at your knees like you’re doing a slight lunge. You’ll be able to vacuum normally with your back straight. Also, when you’re vacuuming a room, instead of reaching to move the vacuum back and forth, just walk through the room.
- Avoid Twisting Movements
This is most common when you’re dusting or moving items around in a cabinet or on a shelf. You start twisting around to reach something, and it puts all kinds of pressure on your spine.
There’s a simple solution to this problem – just turn your entire body in that direction. It doesn’t take you any extra time, and it’s much easier to do this than try to contort your body into all sorts of awkward positions.
- Stop for the Occasional Break
Doing the same type of movement over and over wears on you. After you’ve been doing a chore for about 15 to 20 minutes, take at least a five-minute break to recuperate. Even though chores aren’t the most strenuous physical activity, you still need a break every now and then.
If you notice anything hurting while you’re doing chores, stop what you’re doing right away and relax until you feel better. No pain, no gain can be a good philosophy at the gym, but there’s no benefit to it when it comes to chores.
- Switch It Up
Even if you’re taking breaks, it’s still not good to do the same movements for a long period of time. That’s why you should alternate chores. For example, you could rotate from dusting, to vacuuming to doing the dishes, spending about 10 minutes on each task.
Doing your chores without hurting yourself just requires you to be smart about it and build the right habits. If you keep that back straight as often as possible and avoid overexerting yourself, you’ll keep your home clean without doing unnecessary damage to your body.