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WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER TO BEAT LOW BACK PAIN

2/4/16 10:49 AM

Back pain is quite common, around 80% of the population will experience it at some point in their lives. What is causing it? More often than not, too much bending and twisting can create more low back pain. Since everything is in front of us, we bend thousands of times during the day. If we are able to decrease the amount of bending we can do just a little bit, this can make a big difference in developing back pain.

 

Proper body mechanics are important to use as much as possible with housework, lifting and other daily activities. What are body mechanics you ask? Well body mechanics are using one’s body to produce motion that is safe, efficient and produces the least stress on the body.

 

If you find yourself limited with how much housework you can do because of your back pain, you will be happy to know that there are ways to modify those fun tasks.

 

Laundry

 

If you have a front loading washer or dryer and find yourself bending at the waist and keeping your knees straight, try this instead.

  • You can either kneel on both knees or half kneel with one knee on the ground and your other foot on the ground.
  • This way you are closer to the washer and dryer and your back is in a straighter position. Your arms will do more of the work this way and place less stress on your back.

 

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Dishwasher


I have been guilty of unloading the dishwasher with poor body mechanics because it is easier and a habit for most people to bend at the waist.

  • Try a half kneel position especially when unloading the bottom rack. Take out all of the dishes, put them on the kitchen counter and then put all of them away.
  • Try to keep your back straight and reach with your arms
  • Get as close as you can to what you are taking out of the dishwasher, less stress is placed on your spine this way

 

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Vacuuming

 

I never look forward to vacuuming, but unfortunately it’s one of those things we have to do. It’s really easy to bend forward at the waist when vacuuming, which can be painful.

  • Try not bending forward as much at the waist and only vacuum a small area at a time. Just vacuum an area as big as your arms extend.
  • Once you vacuum that small area, then move onto to vacuum the next area.
  • There are more light weight vacuums available now as well, which would make vacuuming easier and decrease the pressure put on your back

 

 

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Lifting

 

I know many of you know the proper way to lift, but often times we may be in a hurry or just revert to our old habits.  Here are some important things to remember.

  • Make sure to try and squat, bend your knees and keep a small curve in your back
  • Get as close as you can to the object you will be lifting
  • Think about tightening your stomach muscles before you lift
  • Once you lift the object keep it as close to your body as you can, right around the level of your belly button.
  • If you have to walk with the object, keep it close to you the entire time and get as close as you can to were you are setting the object down.
  • Remember not to twist with feet planted - be sure you turn your body! 

 

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For more tips on how to Work Smarter, Not Harder check out Christine Whitney's, tips for improving your workstation here:

 

10 Tips for a Better Work Station Set Up

 

(Some great info, especially if you sit all day)

 

Written by Laura Donlan.

Laura Donlan, PT is contributing author to our blog. She has been a Highland Dancer for over 20 years and specializes in treating dancers - getting them back to their sport!

Topics: Low back pain, back pain