Tips and Tools: Preventing Back Injuries at Home

Don't let domestic chores cramp your style or injure your back!

While you're cooking or doing dishes in the kitchen, practice good posture (head high, chin tucked in, three natural curves of your spine in balance). Make sure your kitchen counters are high enough so that you're not stooping or slouching. Avoid twisting motions while placing dishes in the dishwasher.

Carrying and unloading groceries can put your back at risk. Use a step stool or small ladder instead of reaching for high objects. When reaching for lower objects, bend at your knees and never bend or twist at your waist. If you're carrying bags of groceries, make sure you distribute the weight by using bags with shopping handles (don't balance bags on your hips).

While vacuuming, walk closely behind the vacuum cleaner instead of reaching out. Use a wide stance if you're reaching for spaces underneath tables.

Even while relaxing, you can practice good posture. Keep your TV at or slightly above eye level. If you're reading in bed, sit up straight by propping up your back, shoulders and neck. Bend your knees to relieve strain on your back.

In the yard and garden

  • Ask for help in moving heavy objects such as garden hoses or bags of fertilizer. Use wheelbarrows or wagons for help, and use a sturdy ladder if you're reaching for objects above the ground. Remember that you can always make two or more trips with a wagon.
  • Know your tools: Large tools such as rakes, shovels and hoes should be light and have long handles. Keep your feet, shoulders and hips facing forward while using these tools, and don't stoop, twist or reach too far.
  • Place your hands at least one foot apart when using a shovel or rake. You'll have more power and leverage using this technique.
  • If you're planting or weeding, take breaks often so that you're not stooping or kneeling for extended periods. Use gardening knee pads for extra cushioning.
  • Push whenever you can: you'll have more power if you keep your body closer to the lawnmower or seeder. Less strain on your back and less effort will help keep your back fit for longer.

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