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7 Tips For Avoiding Muscle Strain While Doing Chores

Full length shot of an attractive young woman doing her laundry at home

As if laundry day wasn't dreadful enough, nothing is worse than the instant regret of tweaking your back while lifting your wet bundle from the washer.

You've finally made an effort to be productive, and what do you get in return? A bad back.

That overgrown pile of clothing isn't the only thing out for our health, either. According to Anna Friedman, a doctor of physical therapy and clinic director at RET PT Group of Redmond, Washington, carrying groceries, yard work, painting, doing the dishes, and even mopping floors are common chores that can cause injury.

"Repetitive motions and bad habits are to blame for a lot of these household injuries," Friedman says.

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For example, lifting too much weight — especially doing so improperly and repetitively — can strain your back. Exhibit A: relying solely on your lower back by bending at the waist when picking up a bag of soil while gardening.

Rushing — which when mixed with laziness and a lack of thoughtfulness about general movement mechanics — can also place extra stress on muscles and joints.

You can probably relate to twisting an ankle or straining your neck while racing to take a dripping trash bag outside — jerky movements and careless steps are to blame for your pains.

The only thing easier than straining your muscle during a cleanup is implementing the following body adjustments Friedman suggests for surviving day-to-day chores.

  • Stretch daily or before performing tasks — Friedman recommends Child's Pose, Cat and Cow Pose, and hip flexor stretches.
  • When cleaning out your closet, keep your body turned into the direction of the item you are lifting in order to avoid rotational stresses on your spine.
  • Engage your core by bringing your belly button toward the spine to support your back prior to lifting that heavy bag of groceries.
  • When squatting to pick up your laundry basket, stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and sit back into your heels like there is a chair behind you as another form of back support.
  • Always carry your Amazon packages (or anything heavy, really) close to your centre, not far out in front of you.
  • Small, controlled, slow movements are better than quick ones when mopping, dusting, or emptying the dishwasher.
  • Always ask for help when something is too big or bulky — no matter how badly your living room furniture needs repositioning.
  • Image Source: Getty / PeopleImages
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