It has to be done. And, to be fair it can be a pretty good form of exercise. HOWEVER, bending to mop floors, twisting to vacuum and stretching to clean those windows are all going to take their toll on your back if you don’t look after it.
Here are our top areas to look out for:
It’s rare for kitchen sinks to be at the right height for us, as of course, we all vary in height (belt level is the optimum). You have to reach over, hunch your shoulders and deal with repetitive movements of lifting, scrubbing and emptying the sink. To help relieve the pressure on your back, try resting your knee on a low stool or prop your foot on the bottom of the cupboard under the sink so your knee is bent. Alternate your legs every 30 seconds.
I have yet to encounter a mop or brush that is designed to avoid having to bend over to some degree or other. And then there’s more bending when you’re constantly squeezing out that mop head. There’s no magic solution to this: just take it steady, be conscious of what your back is doing and look for a mop or broom with a handle long enough to allow you to be as upright as possible.
Twisting and stretching, bending and pushing, let alone lugging heavy machines around the house and up the stairs are all going to take their strain on your back. Modern cordless vacuums can help to some degree but they’re not the answer for everyone. If possible, keep a separate vacuum upstairs but always avoid over-reaching and twisting your back. Try keeping upright with your chest pushed out slightly, and use your legs rather than your back to move forward and backward.
Cleaning the bath
Thinking about it, the back wasn’t designed to deal with reaching into all the corners of a bath, both bending and stretching as you go. It might sound strange, but if you want to protect your back AND have a clean bath, you’ll need to get into the bath itself and sit or squat while you scrub. Be careful getting in and out though – those bath sides can be high!
Making the bed
Stretching and twisting, let alone manhandling voluminous sheets and duvet covers puts a lot of strain on the back. Try to move around the bed, corner by corner and avoid reaching across the bed to smooth out wrinkles.
Cleaning windows /dusting high up
It’s always tempting to reach just that little bit further. We say “don’t”. If you can’t reach the tops of your door frames or the highest point of your window, let the right equipment take the strain. Invest in a telescopic duster for example, use a long-poled window cleaning device. If it’s safe to do so, use a set of steps to get nearer to your goal.
With most of these tasks, there are some key things to bear in mind: take lots of breaks: avoid chores when you’re in a rush, and where possible, ask someone to help!
Until you’ve addressed the underlying causes of your pain, it’s likely to persist, so it’s best to get your back in balance and in a healthy place before any further damage is caused by everyday tasks.