Officially, spring has not arrived, but it is sure starting to feel like it here in Maricopa County. For many people, the pleasant weather is energizing and creates the ideal time to start thinking of Spring Cleaning and eventually, to get motivated enough to actually set the wheels in motion! If you too will be refreshing the interior or exterior of your home (or maybe even both) in the weeks ahead, it is important to do so without causing or provoking spine-related pain. For this, we have put together numerous tips that we hope you’ll use to preserve and protect your spine health while cleaning. These are good not only during Spring Cleaning, but all year round!
Dusting and Polishing
You likely dust your furniture off regularly. When spring cleaning, many people will go to the added trouble to polish their furniture. While this can be an amazing way to make your home glow with cleanliness, spending hours dusting and polishing can certainly take a toll on your back.
Aside from being mindful of your body mechanics while doing physical labor, you can further minimize the chance of hurting yourself while dusting and polishing simply by propping up your inactive arm on the item that you are cleaning. When you do this, you are taking stress off of your back. If not practical, you can also support your inactive arm on your thigh.
After you’ve got all the dust stirred up, you will probably feel that you need to shampoo and vacuum your carpets. Both of these tasks can very quickly lead to poor body mechanics, as most people, especially when they become a little tired, will quickly begin slouching while cleaning their carpets. This habitual bent over posture can put a lot of strain on your lower back. This posture is detrimental to your spine-related health, as it can lead to problems with the discs in your spine.
On the flip side, instead of slouching, other people will shampoo and vacuum while having a super straight back. Like slouching, over-extending your back while vacuuming can also be detrimental for your spine health, as it may lead to extra tight back muscles that become painful. Over-extending can also irritate certain pre-existing spine conditions, such as spinal arthritis.
In order to care for your carpets without putting your spine at risk, it is of great importance to be mindful of body mechanics. For this, we’d like to offer the following tips:
When moving, try and keep your body in a small lunge position that does not cause any pain. Never extend your lunge beyond your comfort zone. If it hurts a little now, it will hurt a lot later on.
Your lunge position should involve placing one foot in front of the other. Do not have your feet spread too far apart.
Try and keep your pelvis in a level position as you work.
While in your lunge position, move with the carpet cleaner or vacuum by gently shifting forward and back.
Never round your back into a slouched position.
Never work while you are in pain.
Alternating arms and switching your lunge between legs regularly will help you avoid fatigue. This is important to not induce back pain.
Sweeping and Raking
The mistake that most people make while sweeping or raking is to use their back to power their movements. This is an overall bad idea that can easily provoke spine-related pain. Instead of using your back for the sweeping or raking processes, use your arms and your legs by pulling the broom or the rake.
We’d also like to offer these tips:
Think of purchasing an ergonomically designed broom or rake. These are available and you can easily recognize them as they have a bend in the stem. The bend helps you avoid having to bend your spine while sweeping or raking.
Never twist your back while sweeping or raking.
Never bend your back while sweeping or raking.
Always keep your trunk in a relaxed position.
Need to change directions? Gently pivot your back leg. Remember, the trunk should be relaxed when doing this! Alternatively, you could also turn your whole body by taking small steps. Either method avoids putting pressure on your spine.
Never try and sweep or rake more than two feet in front of you. Doing so can cause you to overextend and strain your back.
Keep your head, shoulders, rib cage, pelvis, knees and feet facing the same direction. This will keep pressure off of your spine and keep your spine aligned as you work.
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