It’s the time of year where we all feel compelled to crank open our windows and clean every inch of our homes, garages, and gardens. Out with the old and in with the fresh air! What most people don’t realize though is that these chores can be extremely hard on the muscles and bones which can lead to aches, pains, and injury. In fact, many home-related injuries that occur are a result of household cleaning… Many chores involve stretching, lifting, pushing, pulling, climbing, twisting and turning, and most people tend to overdo it. So here are some tips to take the pain out of cleaning:
- Set Realistic Goals: Tackle a project over several days so you give your body a rest in between.
- Check your equipment: Make any necessary repairs in order to avoid potential injuries.
- Enlist Help! Ask family members or friends to pitch in.
- Lifting and carrying: When lifting, bend your knees and lift through your legs instead of your back. Also, keep items close to your body rather than having your arms outstretched.
- Vacuuming: Twisting and turning when vacuuming puts increased compression on the spine and neck. To avoid problems, keep the machine or hose close to the front center part of your body and at waist height. Place both hands on the handle and push the vacuum in front of you while walking in a long line, then pull back using the same motion. Never push and pull in short strokes!
- Windows: Keep your feet on the ground or on a step stool (never climb on furniture or windowsills!) Be level with the area you are cleaning to avoid stretching. Also, keep your back straight and avoid tilting your head up or back, especially for a long period of time.
- Mopping: Mop your floors whenever possible, rather than getting on your knees to scrub. Start with small areas, pushing forward and then backward without leaning forward. If scrubbing is needed, place a pad or towels under your knees and avoid reaching too far in any direction.
- Bathtubs and showers: Kneeling, bending and stretching are not recommended. Instead, stand outside the tub with your back straight and use a mop to clean tile walls and the tub.
- Painting: Keep paintbrushes and rollers in front of you and waist-high so that your spine is straight. Looking up at high walls or ceilings for extended periods of time can put extra pressure on nerves and cause pinching and numbness. Paint in short intervals and take frequent breaks.