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Spring Cleaning without the aches and pains!

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Spring is on! And, for many people, so is "spring cleaning!" This is the time of year when people feel the need to clean out the humble abode, whether it is sorting through closets or even giving the home a new coat of paint. The hardest part about spring cleaning is getting it all done without tweaking your back or any other body part.

Your spring cleaning may never become effortless, but you can make it a lot more manageable. For example, set realistic goals, perhaps day by day. Even Martha Stewart says you couldn't possibly get your "spring cleaning" done in a single weekend.

Save yourself from aches and pains by breaking up certain tasks. As a PTA, I am constantly telling patients to take rest breaks while doing daily chores and cleaning the house. Choose an activity and do it for 20 minutes and then take a short rest. The change in body position will help save you from muscle soreness.

Repetitive activities, like vacuuming and mopping tend to be the most strenuous activities and cause the most soreness. Break these activities up over several days especially if you have several rooms that need to be cleaned. Most importantly, watch how you bend as you clean. Avoid bending through the spine and waist. Bend your knees as much as possible or lower your body to the object if it is too heavy to bring to a higher surface. A small soft cushion is a good object to kneel on if you're working in a low area. This will allow you to keep your back straight and reduce bending through the spine.  Also, you can spend more time on an activity when the spine is being protected and something soft is under the knees.

If you're sorting through your closets, be aware of the amount of reaching, twisting and lifting that you're doing. When lifting, bring the object as close to you as possible before lifting. Do not lift heavy objects overhead. This can cause shoulder and neck strains

Many times we find ourselves cleaning or sorting for hours without resting; a recipe for feeling the pain afterwards. Remember to take rest breaks from long tasks and protect your body as much as possible Set realistic goals and ask for help where it is needed. Spring cleaning can be a daunting task but the rewards are well worth the effort. You just want to make sure you can enjoy them without lingering aches and pains. 

Contributed by Krista Magnoli, PTA @ The West Palm Beach Physical Therapy Center 

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