Cleaning restaurants, schools, hotels, offices, or private residences for a living can involve a lot of demanding tasks. Not only is cleaning sometimes physically exhausting work, but it also involves movements or actions that may contribute to a sudden spine injury or pain that develops slowly. Whether cleaning is something you do professionally or occasionally on your own time, there are steps you can take to prevent spine-related injuries as you vacuum, dust, and scrub.
1. Follow Proper Lifting Techniques
Some cleaning duties involve having to lift something. Avoid injuring your spine by paying attention to proper lifting techniques, which means bending with your hips and knees, not your back, and straightening your legs to lift. If you are moving something from one place to another to clean a certain spot, avoid twisting. If you have to carry a box, keep it close to your body.
2. Get Some Help Lifting or Moving Things
If you’re going to have to move a heavy piece of furniture out of the way to clean, know your limitations. Instead of taking on the task yourself, ask for some assistance from a coworker or family member. If you can’t get any help, move heavier things slowly or use your body weight. When carrying something heavy, put it down and rest for a few seconds if you’re feeling stress on your spine.
3. Watch Your Posture While Cleaning
Whether it’s dusting a low table or cleaning a high window, it’s easy to get so focused on a cleaning task that you don’t pay attention to your posture. While it may not seem like a big deal, leaning forward while vacuuming or mopping or twisting your body into an unnatural position to get a hard-to-reach spot can affect your spine enough to cause an injury. Make an effort to enhance your posture while cleaning by:
- Using secure stools or ladders to reach high spots instead of attempting to reach up
- Keeping your head and shoulders in alignment while standing as you mop or sweep
- Doing quick back or neck stretches if you feel stiffness or signs of muscle aches
- Limiting how much time you spend leaning forward, bending, or placing your head in a downward position
- Bending at the knees to pick things up or move things out of the way while cleaning instead of bending straight down
4. Spread Out Your Spine-Demanding Tasks
Avoid overstressing your spine by mixing up your cleaning duties to include both easier and more strenuous tasks. For example, after you finish cleaning the bathroom mirrors, you might want to perform a task you can do while sitting down, like folding linens or laundry. Allow time for short breaks between particularly demanding tasks. Even a quick 10 to 15-minute walk before you get to the next thing on your to-do list can be good for your spine.
5. Use Assistance/Support Devices
If there are certain movements you can’t avoid while cleaning, consider using lumbar support devices or soft back braces. Posture control devices can also help you maintain proper alignment to avoid overstressing spine-supporting muscle groups. Things like long-handled sponge mops or dusters can also minimize pressure on your back.
Should you experience any spine-related pain while cleaning, don’t ignore it. While it may be nothing more than a strained muscle, letting it go could cause the issue to spread to nearby joints, discs, and nerves. If self-care remedies such as ice and heat applications, initial rest, and over-the-counter medications aren’t providing relief, see your doctor or a Beverly Hills spine surgeon.
At The Spine Institute, we specialize in a wide array of procedures that alleviate chronic spine pain, from lumbar artificial disc replacement to transforaminal interbody fusion. Beverly Hills patients can call 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment and take the first steps toward living a pain-free life.