Summer is on its way! The weather’s getting warmer, flowers are blooming and what better way to celebrate the start of the season than with a little bit of spring-cleaning! Whether it’s the dreaded weekly housework or a big clean out, aches, pains and strains on our spine can easily occur from these basic chores.
In 2015, 3.7 million Australians experienced lower back pain, which can be caused from a number of factors, including simple everyday activities. The average Australian woman for example can spend up to 30 hours a week on housework, putting enormous pressure on her body, especially her spine.
Activities like vacuuming, mopping, washing windows, reaching for cobwebs and even washing dishes can add extra strain on the spine because of our habit of bending at the waist or having poor posture while performing repetitive movements. When we haven’t been doing these types of movements for a while, it may leave us vulnerable to injury.
Giving up housework altogether may not be the best option (although we wish it was), so here are a few tips to maintain a healthy spine for this cleaning season and beyond:
Warm-up – Warming up your back with a little walk or starting with smaller tasks may help reduce injury. Avoid starting these big cleaning jobs early in the morning, allowing your body to be more flexible to address the tasks. Taking regular breaks as well can help by avoiding constant strain on your spine.
Straighten Up – Try to stand up straight when doing activities where you might normally hunch over, like vacuuming or mopping. Attempt these activities with your legs in a lunge position, while keeping your spine straight which may help prevent aches and improve your posture.
Share the load – Reduce strain on your neck and back while doing the dishes by opening up the cupboard doors under the sink and placing a foot inside. This should help you squat lower, and straighten up your spine. Also, bend your knees when lifting. By lifting with your leg muscles (not your low back muscles only) you can reduce the strain on your spine, and likely get the cleaning done quicker!
Visiting your local chiropractor can help if you have existing pains by assessing your movement and function, then recommend appropriate care for you. Care options can include specific chiropractic adjustments, targeted stretches and exercises to help strengthen your muscles over the long term.
 Australia’s Health 2018 (AIHW). aihw.gov.au., 2018. Web.
 Mothers still do the lion’s share of housework Fact Sheet, Australian Institute of Family Studies 2016