Household chores are never fun to do, but these tasks shouldn’t be causing you physical pain. Chores like mopping, sweeping and dusting often involve a lot of bending and twisting; in our hurry to get them done, we often rush through the job without paying much attention to proper technique. It’s no surprise then, that mopping the floor can wreak havoc on your back, especially if you’re one of the 80-90% of Americans who report suffering from back pain at some time in their lives. Armed with the right tools and techniques, you can mop the floor effectively without hurting your back.
The Right Tools
A common mistake people make while mopping is to fill their bucket all the way to the top. This makes the bucket too heavy and causes unnecessary strain on the back. Instead, fill the bucket about halfway: it will be easier to lift. If you’re near a bathtub, you can also partially fill that with water and eliminate the need to carry a bucket at all.
If you’re prone to back pain, it also makes sense to use a sponge mop instead of a string mop. Sponge mops are lighter in weight and tend to have a button on the handle to wring out the sponge head. This method involves less physical strain than constantly bending to wring out a string mop. Some mops even have specially shaped ergonomic handles, which help the user maintain a healthy posture while cleaning the floor.
For a deeper cleaning that goes beyond the scope of a typical mop or bucket, a steam mop is a good option. These tools are fairly lightweight, and break down stubborn dirt without the use of harsh chemicals or manual scrubbing.
The Right Posture
When it’s time to mop, work on small sections of the floor at a time. This naturally limits movement and reduces strain. Step over to the next section when you finish one area, instead of bending or leaning over to tackle it. Try to maintain a straight, though not rigid, posture while mopping; avoid bending and twisting if possible.
Most people bend at the waist when it’s time to lift the bucket. This method places a strain on the back and can injure an already-weakened spine. Instead, bend at the knees when lifting a bucket or moving objects out of the way on the floor.
Once you have the right tools and techniques at your disposal, it should be easy to mop your floors without hurting your back; however, a few other precautions should be kept in mind. It’s hard to maintain good posture and avoid strenuous movements when rushing, so it’s best to pick a day to mop when you have ample time to get the job done. If your back is already hurting, it’s probably wise to postpone mopping and other cleaning tasks till another day. Finally, it’s always best to see a doctor if you have recurring back pain or other ongoing symptoms, to rule out any diseases or other conditions.