Household chores: how to prevent back pain

Household chores: how to prevent back pain

Smelling the scent of cleanliness at home is a source of great satisfaction, but you have to do it with the right precautions to maintain lumbar well-being. How is it useful to change our approach?

Among the household chores that take place most frequently, there is certainly the cleaning of floors and shelves as well as the care of clothes, clothes and linens in general (from the washing machine, to the laundry, to the iron).

Although there are different types of supports on the market to carry out these activities, it is also good to take some small measures to change our approach and reduce overloads in the most tense areas, such as the lumbar spine.


  • Washing floors and countertops: what strategies to adopt
  • From washing machine to iron: how to protect your back
  • Benefits of a correct posture
  • Exercises from the video

Washing floors and countertops: what strategies to adopt

Often it happens to have to face the cleaning by lowering, when there are furniture difficult to move, or by getting up, when the shelves and shelves are placed at the top. In these cases, it is necessary to avoid adopting extreme positions, as they can be too difficult and sometimes cause muscle tendon disorders.

For example, bending the torso while keeping the legs extended or semi-flexed can aggravate an overload in the lumbar region and make it difficult to return to a standing position, as the musculature may not be strong enough to support it. We must therefore remember to always bend the legs, or even kneel, keeping the trunk in the most neutral position possible.

As for the upper parts, on the other hand, such as the shelves or the shelves of the cupboard, there is a tendency to rise upwards going to elongate the structures of the upper limb and maintaining an extreme cervical extension. In this case, the use of simple risers or even a ladder can eliminate these overloads since you will find yourself at the same height as the shelf, with the head neutral and the arms in a functional position in front of the body.

From washing machine to iron: how to protect your back

When we hear the “beep” of the washing machine that has finished its work, the drum is ready to be unloaded from all the washed clothes. A good rule of thumb to remember for any heavy load handling is not to let the movement be done by the spine extensors, but rather by the leg muscles, such as the quadriceps and glutes, which are knee and hip extensors, respectively. It is therefore necessary to position yourself in front of the basket with your legs apart and the support base wide (thus placing your feet at least shoulder width apart) and perform a squat-like movement, to return to an upright position while keeping the trunk and head neutral.

After passing the intermediate step of the clothesline, ironing is another moment in which it is good to take special care. Our height and that of the ironing board often disagree and we find ourselves staying with the trunk flexed often for many minutes or even hours. Also in this case you need to find the right balance avoiding extreme positions in prolonged flexion. Specifically, if you dedicate yourself to ironing for a few minutes, it is good to keep a sufficiently wide support base with the knees slightly bent and the trunk in a neutral position. Attention also to the shoulders, often in tension due to the continuous maintenance of an excessive contraction of the trapezius muscles, which could stiffen and cause a sense of heaviness and unnecessary fatigue: becoming aware of the correct position also means seeking relaxation during the activities. On the other hand, when you approach the iron for several hours, it is advisable to change the structure of the board, trying to bring it to the correct height, with the use of suitable risers.

Benefits of a correct posture

Adopting these small precautions while doing household cleaning is very useful both to make activities less difficult and tiring, and to preserve a good state of health at the level of the spine.

The simple maintenance of joint mobility and muscle flexibility in the various parts of the body affected by the movements that are performed, in fact, becomes essential to reduce the risk of running into problems dictated by incorrect positions.

Exercises from the video

In addition to the adoption of the aforementioned small tricks in order to maintain a correct posture, to prevent back pain and discomfort while doing housework, it is possible to perform some simple exercises, also useful for stretching and strengthening the muscles.

  • Exercise 1: lean on the ironing board, bring one heel towards the buttock and grab it with your hand while keeping the torso erect.
  • Exercise 2: lunge with the hand resting on the ironing board.
  • Exercise 3: Squat with a laundry basket.
  • Exercise 4: Calves, bracing and stretching on a ladder / step.
  • Exercise 5: Erector back strengthening with laundry basket on the back.

These are some examples of how we can effectively use some tools that we use during cleaning, using them as a support to the execution of simple movements useful to correct the positions that we erroneously adopt during cleaning. These movements are also useful for improving the position while stretching, as well as for adequately reinforcing the pushing movement of the legs with a weight in the hand.

Let’s remember to dedicate the right time and make these precautions a real habit.

by Andrea Genta, Physiotherapist

Category: Welfare
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