It’s a new year and many of us have made the same resolution as last year – to actually tackle the spring cleaning! As the weather warms up, you will be itching to complete projects, open the windows, and clear out the dust bunnies. These seem like laudable and easily achievable goals, but if you are someone who suffers from muscle or joint pain, it can be more difficult than you first thought to make Spring cleaning painless.
All of that bending, lifting, scrubbing, and sorting can cause you more than just a headache. This pain can keep you from doing the things that you love, and send you to see the doctor as well. According to the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), “Musculoskeletal pain is the number one reason why people visit their doctors each year.” Luckily, In most cases, a few simple steps can help to make your spring cleaning painless.
Before you make that to-do list, start your Spring cleaning bonanza by stretching. A few warm up stretches can increase muscle elasticity and prevent you from harming yourself during your work. This quick yoga sun salutation will prepare you for even the most arduous of tasks.
- Start by standing with your feet spread shoulder width apart, and stretch your toes to ground yourself to the floor, giving you stability.
- Raise both arms from your sides and over your head slowly, coming to a stop up top and reaching up high to stretch your spine.
- Rotate your palms to face away from each other, and bend at the waist while keeping your legs straight to glide forward until your head rests at your knees (this is called a forward fold).
- Let your hands trail down your calves to touch the floor, then raise them up slowly and straighten your back until you create a 7 shape with your body.
- Hold for 5-10 seconds, then let your hands trail down again and rest them palms flat on the floor, just outside the edges of your feet.
- Plant your palms into the ground, and step back one leg at a time into a push up (or plank) position. Raise your hips towards the sky, as if an invisible string is tugging your belly button to the sky. Your body will create an upside down V. One leg at a time, stretch up on your toes and forward to work those tight calf muscles. Do this for about 30 seconds, then walk forward until you are standing in the forward fold position again. Repeat 3-5 times until you feel warmed up.
Congratulations! You are now ready to approach your spring cleaning mission!
While you are cleaning, keep these tips in mind to keep yourself safe and on-task.
1. As you lift heavy items, bend your knees and lift with your legs-not your back.
2. Avoid twisting from the waist- you want to pivot your whole body while lifting.
3. If at all possible, avoid lifting heavy items over your head- but if you must, use a stable tool like a stepladder to lessen the risk, or ask another person to help you lighten the load.
4. When dealing with heavy or awkward items like furniture, try to avoid lifting by sliding or pushing them where possible. Placing a small piece of cardboard under corners and legs will make this easier and protect your floors from unsightly scratches!
Now that you have warmed up and have an action plan in mind it’s time to get cleaning! Good luck and remember, if you have persistent joint and muscle pain preventing you from your everyday tasks, it may be time to consult with an orthopedic professional.