Cleaning is never a fun task and is even less so when you are suffering from an injury. There are modifications that you can do to your cleaning routine that can prevent an injury from occurring and reduce the risk for flare-ups of pre-existing injuries. A general guideline to follow is to spread out the house cleaning over a few days. It not only saves you the grief of re-aggravating an injury but it allows you to put all your focus into one room at a time. You will do a much better job of cleaning the area if you’re not rushed. Another general rule is to alternate your tasks. For example, sweep the floor first then do the dishes to give your back a rest and then mop the floor. This method avoids repetitive tasks and gives your muscles a chance to relax.
Here are some specific cleaning tips to use at home or at while work:
Container Size – Use smaller bottles for your cleaning supplies. You can always buy a larger container that is more ‘value for your money’ but simply empty some of the content into a smaller, lighter, more convenient bottle from your local dollar store (just be sure to label them). Since they are light, it will not be difficult to carry and use them around the house.
Storage – Store your cleaning tools in one area so they are easy to access. If you have a two story house, consider having bottles both up and downstairs to avoid running around.
Long handles – Make sure to utilize long handles on supplies such as brooms, dusters, mops etc. This will minimize the strain on your back.
Vacuuming – A common culprit of back problems is vacuuming. When vacuuming with only one hand, your body automatically twists when you change the direction of the vacuum. Although the vacuum may not be hard to push around, the repetitive movement can eventually lead to a musculoskeletal injury and pain. If your back has already been injured, this is an easy way to re-injure it. To solve this problem, retrain yourself to use both hands while handling the vacuum (this will help you avoid the twisting motions in the upper and lower back). Keeping the vacuum close to your body and avoiding any reaching movement is important as well.
Cleaning Washroom – When cleaning the bathroom, kneel down to clean the bath and toilet instead of stooping over.
Making the bed – While making the bed, always bend at your knees and squat instead of stooping over when tucking in the sheets or comforter. Resist the temptation to do everything from one side and stretching to the other side. It is better to spend an extra few minutes moving around the bed than to risk injuring yourself.
Laundry – Wet clothes are heavy so when you are transferring them from the washer to the dryer, only pick up several pieces of clothing at a time. If you are hanging them on a line to dry, do not overfill the laundry basket. It is better to make several trips with a light load than one trip with a heavy load. If the clothes line is high, try lowering it. Place laundry basket on a chair or stool to avoid having to reach down to the floor every time you need to pick up a piece of clothing. If you are unable to lower the line, use a step ladder to safely hang up the clothes instead of constantly reaching above your head.
Next time you decide to give your house a good cleaning, keep these tips in mind!