Is housework a pain?
The kids are running their sticky hands over your streak-free windows. The dog is tracking in mud all over your beautiful floors. No one likes cleaning up these frustrating messes, but it has to get done.
Aside from the metaphorical pain threatening your mental sanity, cleaning can also cause physical pain and discomfort. No matter what, housework will never be fun, but let me help alleviate some of the physical pain you have while doing those tasks.
Take a look at your posture while doing those household tasks. Are you slouching, slumping, or stooping? Are you pushing, or pulling, a vacuum or broom too far from your body? Are you twisting your back as you work? When you determine you have one or more of the wrong postures mentioned above, you need to think about correcting them.
With any cleaning task, engage the core muscles first, primarily the lower abdominal muscles.
Let’s start with laundry
Squat down to pick up the basket, keeping it close to your body. If there are clothes on the floor, use the golfer lift technique to pick up the clothes (see below).
Front loader machine? Squat down to reach into the machine to deal with the clothes.
Top loader machine? When reaching into the machine to get clothes out, don’t bend at your waist, but instead, use that golf lift technique again.
Ugh. Too much floor space in my house!
Hold the vacuum handle with your hand at your side the whole time. Step forward and backward to move the vacuum.
Need to reach that spot in the corner? Walk to that spot with the vacuum handle at your side; don’t bend at your hips or waist, or push the vacuum very far from your hip. Let your legs do the work; keep your back in the neutral position.
Sweeping is almost the same concept, but you do have to allow your hands to move away from you as you sweep. Make sure you maintain a neutral spine as you sweep, and still let your legs move you forward and backward. Avoid twisting and stooping.
When washing low windows, squat or kneel in front of the surface, keeping your back in a neutral spine. Wipe at chest level and keep a wide base of support through your legs.
When washing the high parts of your windows, use a step ladder or stool to avoid excessive extension of the cervical and lumbar spine. In my household, the sliding glass door will be smudged within an hour of washing, so I learn to put up with those “kid-marks” for a while.
If housework is still a pain after trying these tips, you may want to consider some physical therapy to help you with your posture and body mechanics. With some stretching and strengthening techniques, everyday tasks will seem much easier. Getting housework done won’t ever be fun, but if your body can be pain-free while doing those tasks, it’s a good thing!