Are you unintentionally harming your back? If you wash dishes or carry objects down the stairs, then you most definitely are — at least, according to physiotherapist Jon Bongcawel. Everyday tasks that we don't give much thought to are causing us untold damage, and it's because we're doing them wrong. As Bongcawel told the Daily Mail, it's all in your posture. “Maintaining the correct posture, no matter what you are doing, is absolutely vital. As a general rule, maintain a straight back as much as possible and bend your knees — and always be aware of what you're doing,” explained Bongcawel.
If you do any of these actions on a daily basis (and most of you do), then here's what they do to you and what you can do to fix your posture.
Washing the dishes and brushing your teeth: The problem with these is when you lean over the sink. Doing this involves repeated twisting that puts your neck, shoulders, and lower back at risk. Instead of bending, Bongcawel recommends propping up your foot on a bathroom scale or small footstool. Doing this will prevent you from leaning and force you to fix your posture, which in turn straightens your lower back.
Emptying the dishwasher: When you bend down from the waist, you unnecessarily strain your upper and lower back, as well as your hips. Kneeling isn't any better. Instead, bend the knees while maintaining a straight back. For the heaviest items, load them at the front of your dishwasher and avoid twisting while you unload them.
Folding clothes: Doing this while stooping, sitting, or kneeling can all cause major problems. Stooping and sitting can both aggravate your lower back, while kneeling can be bad for your knees. The ideal positions for folding your clothes include standing up at a surface with a waist-high surface or sitting upright by a table.
Washing windows: This can be very dangerous since you risk hurting your shoulders, elbows, and upper and lower back when you twist and reach with one arm for a lengthy period of time. Alternate hands as often as possible, face the windows from a head-on position, and maintain a straight body at all times.
Vacuuming: There are several ways that vacuuming can be bad for you. First, twisting and leaning your whole body can damage your upper and lower back; second, over-reaching to get at those hard-to-reach spots can hurt your shoulders; third, holding onto the vacuum for too long can strain your elbows. Get around these by letting your arms do the moving instead of your spine, and as always, ensure that your back is straight at all times. Be sure to take regular breaks and, if possible, have someone help you with the vacuuming. One other tip to make things easier for you is to purchase a vacuum that isn't too heavy for you to move by yourself. A canister-type vacuum with an attachment hose is suitable for this purpose, according to JointEssential.com.
Carrying objects up and down stairs and putting them in cupboards: When carrying items, make it a point to avoid twisting and over-reaching since these can hurt your shoulders and upper and lower back. You need to be even more careful with heavy items as they can lead to your knees sustaining repetitive strain injuries. Stay safe by keeping your back straight and holding objects as close to your body as possible. If you must twist and turn, do so with your feet and not your back or your shoulders. And if you plan on carrying something that's much too heavy for you, don't force it. Have someone help you.
Watching TV: You might not think much about your posture while enjoying your favorite TV program, but the fact is that you should. Sitting for extended periods of time and leaning forward can be bad for your lower back while sitting with crossed legs can harm your knees and hips. Make sure that none of these happen by sitting face-on to the screen with a straight back. Standing up or uncrossing your legs every 20 minutes are good habits to develop.
Placing children into car seats: As with many household chores, leaning forward, twisting, and over-reaching can harm your shoulders and lower back, more so when you're doing all of these with a baby. To ensure the safety of you and your child, avoid twisting your back and instead bend and move with your knees and feet, respectively. Do all this while holding your child close to you.
Using handheld mobile devices: For many of us, we've become used to holding our phones and tablets below our chests or on our laps. Unfortunately, this forces us to lean forward or look down, which can strain and stiffen the muscles in our neck and upper back. The right way to hold your phone or tablet is by holding it at chest height so that it's on an even level with your eyes. Prevent another kind of strain by taking periodic breaks away from the screen.
As long as you're conscious about what you're doing, then you can make the necessary adjustments to your posture. Doing this will save you a lot of literal and figurative aches, so always keep posture in mind.
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