It’s that time of year again when we open our windows, roll up our sleeves and do a bout of spring cleaning.
Whether this involves cleaning out the closets or doing some yardwork, it can take a toll on your body. Here are three tips to help you breeze through your spring cleaning without needing a spring tune-up yourself.
Hinge at the hips
One of the most common painful areas after cleaning and yardwork is the lower back. We often round the lower back as we pick up objects, sort through items on a table or use tools like brooms and rakes.
We are built to be able to tolerate rounding the lower back for short periods of time. However, if we do this movement repeatedly or try to sustain a forward stooped posture, it can take only a few minutes to begin to feel discomfort in the back.
Instead of rounding the lower back as you bend, try to push your hips out behind you to hinge at the hips. This movement brings your body lower, keeping your spine in a neutral (non-bent) position. You can then bend your knees to squat lower if you need to get closer to the ground.
This little hip hinge goes a long way to increasing your tolerance of many spring-cleaning duties. Practise it first to get the hang of it and then try to incorporate it while you work.
Some spring-cleaning tasks, such as wiping down windows and weeding the garden, involve a lot of reaching. When the arm comes away from the body, there is a lot of strain placed on the small rotator cuff muscles of your shoulder.
This is because the arm is a long lever, so even a lightweight or pressure applied with the arm outstretched places a lot of demand on the shoulder.
An easy way to minimize this stress is to concentrate on keeping your elbow as close to your body as possible while you work. Sometimes, you will have to reach up and away from your body. However, if you can choose to work closer to your body when possible, it will give you more tolerance for those more demanding tasks.
It’s easy to get carried away with spring-cleaning tasks to just get it done. But when it comes to being in a sustained position, taking frequent short breaks can go a long way to reducing your risk of discomfort at the end of the day.
If you are sitting or standing still as you work, try to change your position or take a 30 to 60-second break at least every 20 minutes. This can be hard to remember, so set a timer on your watch or phone. Your body will thank you.
Try using these tips to ensure you’re able to enjoy the fruits of your spring-cleaning labour this season.