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Back Pain: How to Get the Housework Done Without Making your Back Pain Worse

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re going about your day doing your usual day-to-day jobs, you could be doing something as simple as taking out the trash, sweeping or vacuuming the floors, folding laundry or even making the bed then all of a sudden you feel a sharp pain in your back and you can hardly move…

Sound familiar?

Just a few weeks ago this happened to one of our patients Beth, 57, Cedar Park


She had Saturday full of plans which including laundry, running a few errands and then heading over to her daughters to play with the grandkids.  Like she does every morning she was making her bed.  As she stretched over the bed to get the last wrinkle out of the comforter she felt a twinge in her back.

Beth was fine at first, she carried on with the laundry with only a slight sensation of tightness when she bent over to get the clothes out of the basket. Like most people we see she thought at first “oh it’s just a stuff back, I’ve probably got a bit carried away with the cleaning, it’s happened before.”

But as she went on to run her errands she could tell that little twinge was more than she originally thought.  It was getting tighter and tighter and by the time she arrived at the post office she could barely get out of the car.

She ended up going home… Missing out on spending time with her grandkids and lying in bed the rest of the day worrying about what to do?

How was she going babysit next weekend with a back so painful?…

Now you might be thinking this won’t happen to me, not with something as basic as everyday chores, but when you consider that most of us do some form of jobs around the house, that’s a lot of backs that could potentially become sore!

You may not have a situation like Beth where your back goes out on you but maybe you limit the amount of chores you do because of back soreness that gets worse the more chores you do. Or you may avoid chores altogether because of fear you back will hurt after.

The sad thing is, many people will ‘put up’ with a bad back for days (even weeks!), hoping the pain will go away on it’s own eventually, but you really don’t have to play the waiting game and suffer for so long – especially not if it’s getting in the way of daily life and enjoying time with family.

So I’m going to give you three quick tips for everyday housework jobs to help make agonising back pain a thing of the past.

As much as we would like to blame the chores for causing or aggravating our back pain… its not the chores that are the problem… it’s the way we do them that is the problem.

  1. When using the vacuum cleaner or a mop: one of the most common mistakes people make is reaching out with their arms while bending at the waist over and over again.

Bending over in awkward positions can place a lot of strain on your muscles – especially in your back! To help fix this… the key is to keep your hips and shoulders moving towards the work.

What I mean by this is instead of leaning forwards and twisting your back, step forward in the direction of the movement with one foot and bend slightly at the knee, allowing your upper body to stay upright to reduce any strain.

  1. When doing the laundry,  picking up items and rescuing that lost sock from the bedroom floor, leaning over can trigger off back pain – similar to sweeping and using the vacuum cleaner, bending at the waist repeatedly will strain your back muscles.

To get around this I tell my patients to do something I like to call the ‘golfer’s reach’, it has this name because it’s similar to how golfers pick up a ball after they make the putt.

When you reach for items with your right hand balance yourself by lifting your leg up in the air. If you need extra support, place your opposite hand on a nearby surface. If you’re reaching with your left hand, reverse the directions.

The deeper you reach with your hand, the higher your opposite leg should go so that you can keep your balance while simultaneously reducing the amount of strain on your back muscles.

  1. I know it can be easy to get caught up, rushing around the house to get everything done but one thing to remember is to be kind to yourself and take 20 minute breaks throughout.

If you start feeling any signs of pain, walk, stretch and rest your back.

Don’t allow yourself to get so busy checking a chore off of your to-do list that you forget the safe way to move your body.

Start using these tips right away to keep your back safe.

For more tips on easing back pain like this, here’s free special report with 9 top tips on how to avoid back pain… CLICK HERE!!!


Dr. Ryan Seifert - Physical Therapist in Austin, TX

Dr. Ryan Seifert

Natural Fit Physical Therapy

"We Help Adults 50+ Become More Active, Stay Healthy, And Avoid Slowing Down Without Pain Pills, Injections, Or Surgery."



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