How can I protect my spine during spring cleaning?
Spring means more daylight and warmer temperatures. Spring also means it is time for spring cleaning, the yearly tradition that can bring a shine to your home, but pain to your back.
Spring cleaning involves a lot of bending, twisting and hard work – all of which can cause back pain. Leaning over the bathtub, scrubbing floors, and dusting in low areas can all cause you to bend over and stay in a stooped position. This can cause strain and injury to your spine and back muscles. Many of these chores require that you use poor posture as you stretch, stoop, lean and slouch; even short periods of poor posture can inflict pressure on the joints, muscles and rubbery discs that cushion the bones of your spine. Sweeping, heavy lifting and moving furniture can cause pulled or strained muscles, especially if you do not exercise frequently.
Fortunately, there are many ways to protect your spine during spring cleaning. Here are 11 tips from SPINE/RX to keep your spine healthy this spring.
11 Ways to Protect Your Spine During Spring Cleaning
1. Plan ahead
Schedule your spring cleaning over the course of a few hours, days or weeks, depending on how much work you intend to do. Avoid the temptation to do all of your spring cleaning chores at one time, as this can lead to overexertion, back strain, pulled muscles, and pain.
Prior to starting your spring cleaning, be sure to purchase products that help you avoid back injuries. Replace that broom with the broken handle that causes you to bend awkwardly, for example, and get a dust wand with an extended handle that reduces your need to climb up on a ladder or crawl along the floor. You want to make sure that your back and spine are healthy enough to move furniture, lug buckets of water, and perform other chores associated with spring cleaning.
3. Share the work
Ask friends, neighbors and family to help you clean. Having the extra pair of hands helps get the work done quicker and more safely. A work buddy can also help you move furniture or other heavy loads with less chance of injuring your back.
Stretching eases your muscles and connective tissues into an active state.
5. Use equipment as intended
Have someone hold your ladder, for example, and take advantage of the wringer on your mop or bucket. Using ladders or climbing up on furniture can lead to falls and fractures.
6. Stand up straight
Using good posture when you stand up alleviates pressure on your spine, discs and muscles.
7. Bend at your knees, not at your waist
Use proper body mechanics to bend over and to lift heavy objects. Instead of stooping to reach something low or to pick something up, bend your legs while keeping your back straight. Most importantly, lift with your legs, not with your back. Use the powerful muscles in your legs to lift heavy items.
8. Avoid tobacco smoke
The nicotine in tobacco smoke prevents your discs from absorbing the nutrients they need to cushion the bones of your spine; unhealthy discs allow the bones of your spine to grind against each other as you move.
9. Take frequent breaks
Build frequent breaks into your schedule, but take an unscheduled break if your back starts to hurt. Return to work only if the discomfort subsides. If your back pain continues, quit for the day and schedule an appointment with our spine surgeon.
10. Listen to your body
Stay aware of pain, fatigue, numbness, tingling or other signs of back trouble.
11. Seek help
Consult with our New Jersey spine specialist, Dr. James Dwyer, if you experience spine pain, back pain, numbness, tingling, stiffness, dysfunction or other spine problems resulting from spring cleaning. Spine care can relieve pain, speed healing and improve function.
For more information on protecting your spine during spring cleaning, or to seek treatment for back pain after spring cleaning, make an appointment with our Hoboken spine surgeon, Dr. Dwyer. Our New Jersey spine specialist may be able to help you maintain optimal spine health this spring and throughout every season of the year.