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Body wisdom around the house

Last weekend I was up a ladder cleaning. It reminded me that these days especially, I need to be smarter about how I use my body.

From the ladder I could see how dusty the furniture was, how many dead insects were clogging up the window frames, and that the top of fridge needed wiping. And while I was at it, I might as well do the tops of the cupboards…

Jobs like cleaning — or gardening, yard work or even house moving — can go on for ages, and it’s tempting to just keep going, and going, and going.

But that can be a one-way passage to an injury that could hang around for years.

The trouble with a lot of these jobs is that they’re repetitive and rely on your dominant arm.

Here are a few things I’ve learned over time about preserving myself:

Take your time and think. Look for the easiest way. For example, if you have to carry a heavy load, see if you can break it into at least two smaller loads. If you can’t, get someone to help you. 

If you need to move something relatively heavy, we’re stronger at pushing than pulling. But leave it if it’s too heavy.

If you need to be on your knees, use something like a cushion or a towel to pad them.

Mix things up — do some cleaning, then take a break. Go out and do the food shopping, or something else that uses different muscles and rests the ones that have been working.

Don’t keep going if you’re sore or your muscles are tired — that’s when you hurt yourself or have an accident (and hurt yourself).

If you’ve done a lot with one body part, do something different the next day so it gets a chance to recover.

Learn to use your butt and legs, not your lower back. Aim to keep a straight back and bend from your hips. 
The photo comes from the collection of American posture teacher, Esther Gokhale. Note the lovely straight backs on these women. 

Be patient, and ask for help. The sky won’t collapse if you don’t get it all done in one go. I’ll break up this job and do it over a few weekends. 

If you’ve been leaning forward (from your hips, not your back, remember) for a long time, do the opposite – i.e. gentle back bending. 

When you’re finished, do some stretching. And if you’re weary, an Epsom salts bath can help rejuvenate your body and get you a good night’s sleep. 

I know you can’t be bothered, but do it anyway.

Photo source: Esther Gokhale, 1998

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Thursday, June 28, 2018 | Rhonda Anderson