Back pain is extremely common – affecting over half of us, recent research suggests.
A survey of 2,000 Americans commissioned by Samuel Hubbard Shoe Co. found 52 percent were affected by the complaint.
If you suffer from such pain – the type that painkillers don’t offer much relief from – then you’ll understand the desperate feeling of trying any remedy.
But while you may be giving the heavy lifting at the gym a miss, you might not be fully aware that you could be making the problem worse by incorrectly carrying out everyday activities.
Here an expert explains the ways in which you move when carrying out everyday activities from loading the dishwasher to carrying your child, could be keeping you trapped in a vicious cycle of chronic pain.
Jon Bongcawel, a senior physiotherapist at Physio Med, shared with Mail Online how to start doing 10 daily tasks right to boost your chances of recovering more quickly.
Mr. Bongcawel said: ‘It may sound crazy that updating your Facebook status can damage your back but prolonged or regular activity in the incorrect position – no matter what you are doing – can strain your back and aggravate an existing injury.
‘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’
1. Using mobile devices
Whether sitting or standing, most of us hold devices in our lap, or below chest level, causing us to look down or lean forward, resulting in strain and muscle stiffness in the upper back and neck.
Always hold the device at chest height, so the top of it is level with your eyes, and take regular screen breaks – staring too long is bad for your eyes too.
2. Brushing your teeth and washing the dishes
Also known as ‘waiter’s lean’, these tasks involve leaning forward over a sink – and the same risks apply to ironing at a board.
The danger is that you are repeatedly twisting, which can cause damage to your lower back, neck, and shoulders.
Instead, use a small footstool or bathroom scale to lift one foot. This stops you from leaning, forces you to adjust your posture and keeps your lower back straight.
If you move your whole body while leaning and twisting to vacuum, it can hurt your upper and lower back. Similarly, over-reaching can put a strain on your shoulders and be gripping the vacuum for extended periods is bad news for your elbows.
Keep your back straight and move your arms, not your spine. Take regular breaks or share the task with someone else.
Make sure the vacuum isn’t too heavy for you to move before buying it.
4. Emptying the dishwasher
Bending from the waist to load or unload a machine is something many people do – especially with heavy items such as pans – but it places a strain on your upper back, lower back and hips.
Kneeling is no better as it is harsh on your knees, while repeatedly gripping and lifting items can damage your elbows.
Keep your back straight and bend at the knees. Load the heaviest items at the front of the dishwasher and don’t twist when unloading them.
5. Putting children into car seats
Twisting and leaning forward or over-reaching while holding the baby can harm your lower back and shoulders.
Hold the baby close to your body, bend your knees and move your feet – don’t twist your back.
Prepare by doing light back stretching exercises first – see below for the NHS recommended moves.
6. Carrying items up and down stairs and stocking high cupboards
Twisting and over-reaching whilst carrying items damages your lower back, upper back and shoulders, while repeatedly lifting and carrying heavy loads can cause repetitive strain injuries to the knees.
Hold items close to your body and keep your back straight. Twist from your feet, not your back or shoulders.
Never try to carry something you struggle to even lift – get someone to help you instead.
7. Washing windows
Twisting and over-using one arm is not good for your upper and lower back and shoulders, while gripping for extended periods and using repetitive motions can also cause elbow injuries.
Avoid using one side of the body more than the other by alternating hands or using a different hand to clean each window.
Keep your body straight at all times and wash windows from a face on position. Use a ladder for high windows and take a break if necessary.
8. Making the bed
Twisting and over-reaching to cover all four corners of the bed with sheets and duvets can cause havoc with a bad back.
Don’t bend over to reach across the bed, bend your knees and keep your back straight. Get someone to help, especially when changing duvet covers.
9. Watching TV
It doesn’t sound like much can go wrong from sitting watching telly – but given how much of it most of us do it’s important to think about your posture.
Sitting with your legs crossed can damage your hips and knees, and sitting for too long, or just leaning forward in excitement, can harm your lower back.
Stand up, or at least uncross your legs, every 20 minutes. Sit with your back straight and make sure you’re face-on to the screen, not at an angle.
10. Folding washing
It’s yet another everyday task you wouldn’t imagine can cause problems – but stooping over to fold clothes on a low surface, or doing it while sitting on the sofa and twisting from one side to the other, is a nightmare for your lower back.
Doing this task while kneeling down won’t do your knees any favors either.
If you’re standing up to do your folding, put the clothes on a surface which is at waist height to stop you bending over.
Alternatively, do it whilst sitting upright in a comfortable position at a table.
And think ahead when putting your folded clothes away – try storing commonly used items, such as socks, in drawers at waist height, and those you use the least, like jumpers in the winter, in lower drawers.
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