Pain Free Cleaning Tips

Protect Your Joints With These Housecleaning Tips

To minimize trauma on your body and joints while cleaning, first warm up by walking around the house. Then follow these joint-friendly easy cleaning moves.

Back-Safe Bending

Common mistake: Bending from the waist.

Typical tasks: Unloading washer, dryer and dishwasher; gathering and picking up items; washing dishes; ironing; cleaning under furniture; scrubbing tubs; making beds.

Safe solutions:

  • Follow the old saying, “bend with your knees, not your back.” Slightly flex knees, and keep a hollow in your back.
    When standing, minimize back pressure by placing one foot on an elevated surface, such as a stepstool or bottom shelf.
    When unloading, use a “golfer’s lift.” Simply kick back the leg opposite your extended arm.
    Kneel or get help for floor-level or awkward tasks.

Reach Right

Common mistake: Reaching with your arm fully stretched.

Typical tasks: Dusting; washing dishes; reaching overhead shelves; cleaning windows or walls; picking up objects.

Safe solutions:

  • Keep arms close to your body to minimize strain on shoulders.
    Bring objects to waist level instead of reaching out with arms.
    Utilize wands and poles with extended handles.
    Avoid excessive back and arm extension by using a sturdy stepstool when reaching for overhead items.

Knee Know-How

Common mistake: Kneeling on both knees.

Typical tasks: Washing floors; cleaning low cabinets; scrubbing tubs and showers.

Safe solutions: 

  • Kneel on one knee and switch knees often to minimize and disperse pressure.
    Wear kneepads or cushion knees with a piece of clothing or a mat.

Lift Lightly

Common mistake: Lifting too much; poor lifting posture.

Typical tasks: Taking out trash; hoisting laundry baskets; moving furniture; lifting cleaning buckets or boxes.

Safe solutions:

  • Squat, keeping back straight as you lift straight up.
    Hold loads close to your body to minimize strain on back.
    When possible, use wheeled carts to transport supplies.
    Don’t lift heavy or awkward loads by yourself; find a family member or friend to help.

Push Painlessly

Common mistake: Pulling instead of pushing; leaning from waist; overextending arms; bending wrists.

Typical tasks: Mopping; sweeping; vacuuming; moving objects.

Safe solutions:

  • Push objects; don’t pull.
    Keep head up and in line with your spine.
    Avoid thrusting your arm back and forth. Instead walk with mop, broom or vacuum with arms in relaxed position.
    When sweeping, use flat-head brooms and push with leading edge. Sweep all areas into one pile and pick up with vacuum or long-handled dustpan.
    When mopping, frequently change mopping styles to alternate stress on muscles. For example, switch between figure 8s and rocking side-to-side.
    Avoid stressing wrists by keeping them straight, not bent, when holding handles.

Smart Tips for All Tasks

To avoid fatiguing joints and muscles by working them too hard too long, apply these tips to any task:

  • Alternate leading hands when possible.
    Alternate sitting and standing tasks.
    Alternate different types of motions. For example, switch between folding clothes and sweeping.
    Stand up and gently stretch every 15 minutes.

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