Back Pain Tips: Help With Housework

Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2005

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

By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson

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

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

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

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

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

  • Keep weight close. Reach from as short a distance as possible when picking up objects. Keep the weight as close to your body as possible. For example, rather than reaching over the back seat to get an infant, get out of the car, sit next to the child in the back seat, bring the infant close to you and then scoot out of the car.

Published Jan. 14, 2004.

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

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