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Back Pain Tips: Help With Housework

Follow these five simple rules to protect your back while you do housework.

Medically Reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD on January 15, 2004

Simple household tasks can turn into trouble for people withpersistent back pain. But following a few general rules can help minimize therisk of injury and keep your back healthy.

  • Lifting. Avoid bending from the back or twisting while liftingobjects. Instead, hold the object close to your body with a good base ofsupport and your legs apart. Then, bend from the knees, lift and turn yourentire body from the feet to move objects and avoid putting stress on yourback.

     

  • Build strength as you stand. Try standing on one leg when standingwhile doing the dishes or brushing your teeth. This will help build strength inthe core muscles of your lower back and abdomen. Use the sink to stabilizeyourself if needed and alternate your legs every 30 seconds.

     

  • Change your position. When standing for long periods of time, suchas cooking or cleaning, widen your stance or alternate your position to avoidrepeated stress on the same muscles.

     

  • Stand proud when vacuuming. Avoid bending and pushing whilevacuuming. Instead, stand upright with your chest pushed out slightly, thinkmilitary style, and use your legs rather than your back to move forward andbackward.

     

  • Keep weight close. Reach from as short a distance as possible whenpicking up objects. Keep the weight as close to your body as possible. Forexample, rather than reaching over the back seat to get an infant, get out ofthe car, sit next to the child in the back seat, bring the infant close to youand then scoot out of the car.

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SOURCE: Joel M. Press, MD, medical director, Center for Spine, Sports & Occupational Rehabilitation, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

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