8 Household Chores to AVOID If You Have Back Pain

back pain and workThere is perhaps no better full-body “workout” than keeping your home in order. But as you’re hauling laundry up the stairs, crawling on your hands and knees to wash the kitchen floor, twisting and bending to get your family room vacuumed, and stretching to get the very top of your tall bay windows sparkly clean, you probably take your back for granted.

That is, unless it’s causing you pain.

In that case, it is virtually impossible to take your back for granted, as with every swipe of the sponge or run of the mop, you’ll be painfully reminded of the immense role your back plays in completing household chores.

Keep in mind, though, that pain is a warning that something is seriously off balance in your body. In the case of back pain, that “something” is almost always related to your muscle balance, which we’ll explain shortly, as addressing that balance, or more specifically that imbalance, will be key to resolving and becoming free of your back pain.

But in the meantime, back pain and work should not be one and the same! Until the underlying issues causing your back pain are addressed, you may need to avoid certain household chores — or at the very least perform them differently — to avoid further stressing and damaging of your spine, discs and everything in between.

Avoid These 8 Chores if You Have Back Pain

1. Vacuuming

Vacuuming is public enemy #1 to your back, primarily because of the repetitive twisting involved. If you ever have to stop and sit down mid-way through the room because you’ve sent your back into painful spasms, you know what we’re talking about.

Quick Fix: Use both hands when you vacuum to minimize the twisting motion and keep your upper and lower back more stable.

2. Mopping and Sweeping

This wouldn’t be so bad if you could do it standing straight up, but most mops are not ergonomically correct, and require you to bend varying degrees while mopping, then bend over again to squeeze the mop out. This puts an intense burden on your back, especially if you’re mopping or sweeping a large area.

Quick fix: Only use a mop or broom that has an extra long handle so you can stand as upright as possible.

3. Dishes

Reaching over the sink to clean a pile of dishes puts a heavy strain on your back, especially since countertops are rarely the correct height (it should be belt level), ergonomically speaking. The more dishes you have to wash, the more the pain is likely to build up.

Quick fix: Prop one foot up, with your knee bent, on a stool (or open the cabinet below you and prop your foot on the ledge). This will help relieve some of the pressure on your spine.

4. Cleaning Your Tub

Bending, stretching and reaching to scrub all the corners of your bathtub will be excruciating if you have back pain, as even under the best circumstances your back was not designed for that type of work.

Quick fix: Don’t ever clean your tub by reaching in over the side. Instead, squat or sit in the tub and clean from there.

5. Trimming Tall Hedges

If it’s tall enough to require you to reach up over your head with outstretched arms, trimming it will put immense pressure on your back. Plus, you’re likely to arch your back in the process, furthering the strain and the pain. Of course, the same goes for any task that requires you to reach up high, like cleaning a fan or painting the ceiling.

Quick fix: Use a ladder to safely elevate yourself so you can trim (or paint, etc.) without overstretching.

6. Shoveling Snow

With each lift of your shovel, your back is put to the test. The heavy load will strain both your upper and lower back muscles.

Quick fix: Keep the shovel as close to your body as you can to avoid overreaching, and bend at your knees instead of at your back.

7. Raking Leaves

Similar to vacuuming and mopping, the repetitive stretching, pulling and reaching that is inherent in raking leaves will stress and strain virtually every muscle in your back.

Quick fix: Stand as upright as you can while you rake, while keeping your knees slightly bent. Rather than bending over to clean up the piles of leaves, squat down as you pick them up.

8. Making Your Bed

Reaching over to put sheets and your comforter in place may seem simple enough, but if you’ve ever attempted it with back pain you know it’s virtually impossible. The stretching and twisting required adds up to serious spinal strain.

Quick fix: Move around the bed to each corner at a time — don’t try to reach across the bed to smooth sheets.

What’s the Quick Long-Term Fix?

We’ve given you some quick-fix ideas that may make your household chores a little easier to accomplish, but your back pain will likely persist nonetheless because you haven’t addressed the underlying causes of the problem. Your pain is likely the result of muscle imbalances that developed over time. While it may seem like your pain occurred overnight, it’s more likely that poor posture, repetitive motions and chronic straining, including performing some of the household chores mentioned above incorrectly, along with sitting for long hours in front of a computer or in the car, have taken a toll on your body, leading to imbalances in various muscle groups.

Your body is then forced to work each day with this dysfunction and eventually this creates a condition, like a herniated disc for example, which causes pain. The solution starts at the foundational level by addressing your original muscle imbalances.

back pain and workWith the Lose the Back Pain System, you’ll go through a series of self assessments designed to help you pinpoint which physical dysfunctions you have, then you’ll receive a customized series of corrective exercises, stretches, and self-treatments that are unique to your condition. The best part about this amazing system is that you don’t have to continue wasting hundreds of dollars a month on chiropractor visits or anti-inflammatory medicines that only provide temporary relief — and you won’t have to do generic back exercises or stretches, that just aren’t effective…

With this cutting-edge system, you create your own Personalized Self Treatment Program that helps target the specific type of back pain you’re experiencing right now. You’ll often experience complete and lasting relief in 30 days or less. So what are you waiting for? Learn more now.

Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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11 thoughts on “8 Household Chores to AVOID If You Have Back Pain”

  1. Arlene keen says:

    Thank you, thank you for the tips on household chores & back pain. Wow! I’ve needed this info for a long time. Planning to order your program soon. Keep up the good work.

  2. Valcanhouser says:

    Wish my youngest sister and her fiancee could see this, but they’d probably just think it was bogus. They just had me doing the dishes, except the pipe for draining our sink is broke so we have to carry water and wash the dishes in a roaster. And I got b*&ch3d at for taking a long time to do the dishes (every once in a while I had to give my back a rest, it’s really been bothering me). They act like I’m really lazy or something since I have trouble doing a simple chore like the dishes. My sister is one of those people who believes that your physical capabilities depend on your age. Our great great grandmother lived to be 102 and when she was 98 she could get down and do more push ups than her nephew. I have difficulty doing one push up because of how my spine is. She gets mad if the garbage doesn’t get taken out soon enough and our grandma does it. I know it bugs our grandma who doesn’t like being treated like an invalid or like she can’t do something. My sister says she shouldn’t have to and that she believes once you get a certain age, you shouldn’t have to do anything. My concern is what’ll happen when we move out. My sister and her family moved in earlier. I’ve moved away and moved back a couple times but my fiancee and I are planning on getting married soon and living on his farm and my sister and her family are working on moving out. My sister doesn’t think our grandmother should have to worry about keeping in shape and stuff to be able to take the garbage out without falling or whatever until she actually has to. To me that’s like a weight lifter waiting til just before a competition to practice lifting weights.

    1. Lyn Metcalfe says:

      Valcanhouser, you are absolutely correct. If you don’t use it you loss it, and the older we get the harder it is to come back. If Granny is going to be left on her own eventually then she should be allowed to do all the chores that she wants. That is unless someone plans on stopping in every day to see how she’s doing. Age means nothing! It is just a number. Do what you can for as long as you can. I have major back problems that start at C2 and go all the way down to L5-S1, my partner is disabled so most things are left for me to do. It’s tough sometimes but somebody has to do it. I find keeping in shape with gentle stretching and moderate exercise works. But I too have to take breaks when doing those chores that are particularly hard on the back. But please let Grandma do what she can or someone will have to stay behind and look after her.

  3. Mary wan says:

    Thanks for the tips in doing household chores. It is an eye opener to know why my back pain had not improved as It never occurs to me that stretching my arms to hang clothes on the line or doing washing in the usual way have contributed to the pain. Thank you also for the tips re getting a good night sleep.i usually try to put your suggestions into practice and they are helpful. Thanks. Mary

  4. Belle Gayer says:

    SNOW SHOVELING — We use a PUSH SHOVEL — it works perfectly, and I got a great price on Amazon (you can buy them anywhere you like). NO TWISTING!! I have no back problems, but that is because I do Pilates 3X a week and kettlebells and light weight training. IF YOUR CORE IS STRONG, YOUR BACK IS STRONG.

    1. Karen says:

      Lucky you, who isn’t disabled by pain! If you were struck by a car at age 12 and get fractures in two vertebrae & 2 fractures of foot, you can’t understand. My body has been disabled by daily pain for decades & you can be sure I will never be lifting any kettlebells! If your core is strong, come on over & scrub my tub! Come mop my floor! What goes around also comes around.

  5. Sue says:

    This article has really put my mind at ease. I’ve always had severe lower back pain whenever I’ve swept, hoovered or mopped the floors. I thought these 3 tasks didn’t put much pressure on the back especially lower back. Two days ago I did the 3 chores I’ve mentioned but as usual I had to quickly find a seat as it is so painful and feels like I’m going to collapse in a heap if I can’t sit quickly enough. Since then I can no longer stand for more than a few minutes without severe pain. I can walk, sit and lie with hardly any pain but standing, even in one spot for a few minutes causes terrible pain that feels like its going into my hips. Now I know what and why this happens I feel I can correct my posture, use both hands instead of one when doing the floors and stop if the pain starts, unlike 2 days ago when I kept stopping and starting. Thank you so much.

  6. Susan says:


    Those are great everyday functional tips for back pain sufferers. Thank you. I only want to mention that usually using a ladder is a big no-no. At least, for me, it is and my comment may not apply to many out there. I did invest in a “safety” ladder which calms my high anxiety for this function. I can usually do it but I will also suffer later (lower back and knees). I truly enjoy your letters out to us; they are very user-friendly?.

    1. Steve says:

      Susan, Thanks for your comments, that is a great addition to the list…



  7. ann says:

    I have a history of back injuries…wedge fracture L1, S2 fracture and fracture of ala, various herniations, degenerative disk disease, 3-level cervical fusion, levoscoliosis. Also had a total hip replacement due to osteonecrosis and several fractures like my knee, both shoulders, wrists, etc. I do have osteoporosis. Was always an athlete and some of my issues are related to that. Have been to PT, pain management to no avail. I live alone so my home just doesn’t get cleaned the way I want. Can’t lift heavy things to put them away so it kind of piles up.

    1. Admin says:

      Hi Ann,
      Thank you so much for your comment. You may wish to consider our Book the 7 Day Back Pain Cure. The book discusses back pain and related issues, treatment options to consider, pain relief suggestions, action plans and other helpful information for coping with pain. Please read more about it via the link below


      You may also go to our Submit a request” form in our online helpdesk system found here to ask any further questions if you would like :

      Thank you. Our Best Wishes
      Admin (The Healthy Back Institute)

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