Yard work is often the cause of back injuries, but house work can be just as dangerous. Take the dishes for example. There are four different ways you can hurt your back doing dishes. Learn how to prevent these “on the non-paying job” injuries and the subsequent, aggravating pain that seems to come from nowhere.
Dishes Vulnerability #1
When you lean forward with arms in the sink, you’re asking your latissimus dorsi to work when it’s stretched and that makes it weak. If you stay too long in that position, you risk straining the muscle or having your connective tissue harden around it. Take frequent breaks to step away from the sink and undulate for several seconds, especially after lifting heavy pots or anything medium-sized filled with water.
Unloading the dishwasher can be just as dangerous as doing dishes by hand. Even though it’s not as static as standing at a sink, there’s more bending forward involved, especially when taking dishes out of the bottom rack, which poses two risks.
Dishes Vulnerability #2
The ligaments that hold your vertebrae together can stretch only a tiny bit. When the spine bends for extended periods, the ligaments can get microtears, which are extremely painful. The answer is to counterbalance the stretch on the back of the spine with control in the front of the body. When you engage your transverse abdominis (the inner corset as described by New Rules of Posture author Mary Bond), you add strength to the muscles and ligaments around your spine. Learn how to engage your transverse abdominis in this article.
Dishes Vulnerability #3
Just as hazardous as bending forward is standing back up. Many people bend forward at the hips, but arch the low back to return upright. This puts tremendous pressure on the spinal discs. The most functional way is to connect to your feet and use your legs and hip to stand up rather than depending on the back muscles. If you have problems with this, hold onto to your tush when you bend over to remind yourself to engage your glutes.
Dishes Vulnerability #4
Putting dishes away in lower cabinets often requires unique bending and twisting that rivals the most advanced yoga pose. This can cause in a crick in the neck, shoulder or back. The answer is to squat down rather than bending over. It’s also a good idea to use two hands rather than one to keep the body in better alignment.
Protect yourself from the hazards of doing the dishes with careful attention to good body mechanics. Not only will you avoid unexpected and unnecessary injuries, you will develop the habit of using your core every day.