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Avoid Injury during Household Chores


Household chores can be a full-body workout.  Whether its raking leaves, shoveling snow, pulling weeds, or vacuuming the house, household chores have the tendency to leave you with a sore feeling the next day.  In most modern situations, life is spent in a sedentary state, and putting your body through the stress of household chores can be painful if one doesn’t prepare their own body.

It is common to experience soreness after a chore or a workout.  Fortunately, there are ways to prevent and relieve any back pain you’ve received from getting things done around the house.  There are methods before, during and after that can greatly reduce your chance at injury when you’re tending to your home.

  • Always Stretch!
    You always stretch before your workouts (I hope!), and household chores are nothing different than working out.  Make sure before you go to work, you stretch all your major muscle groups including your neck, torso, wrists, and hips.  Focus your attention on the groups that will receive the most activity from the workout.Stretching gives your body the proper flexibility to work for long periods of time.  It gets your muscles and ligaments ready for the exercise so you can prevent an injury or strain.  You’d be surprised at how even the smallest chores demand high use of your body.  Don’t underestimate these chores and give your body the preparation it needs.  For the best exercises, talk to a licensed physical therapist about how you can prepare yourself for any workouts.
  • Use the Right Equipment!
    Preparing your body is half the battle. Make sure the equipment you use is good for your body as well. For example, using a small or heavy rake for your leaves can make raking much harder than it should be.  Your equipment should complement your height and strength.  Equipment too large for you may be as bad as equipment that’s too small.When buying equipment, go through the motions at the store and make sure you don’t feel any weird movements that can result in future pain.  There are many resources online where you can find the correct equipment for each household chore.  It is highly recommended that research is done to prevent injury!
  • Maintain Good Posture!
    Posture is extremely important when working around the house. Don’t bend forward at the waist as it exerts too much pressure on your vertebral discs.  Proper alignment of the body should have your legs shoulder width apart, your knees slightly bent and your back straight.  When shoveling, raking or any other similar activity, instead of working on what is directly in front of you, turn to the side and work from an angle to avoid bending at the waist.Posture when picking up heavy objects is important as well.  Heavy objects should be picked up with your knees bent and your back straight as if you were squatting.  Do not use your back to pick up heavy objects, the stress can be dangerous and lead to injury.
  • Changing it Up!Giving yourself frequent breaks or switching to another chore can give your body the rest it need to keep functioning correctly. Don’t stick to one chore for too long or you may risk overuse of those muscles. Excessive use of a certain muscle at one time can lead to chronic pain and make it difficult to get that chore done in the future.It’s also very important to take breaks whenever necessary.  Taking breaks often allows your muscle groups to rest so you don’t hurt yourself.  Your health is more important than how quickly you can get things done, take your time.
  • Cool down!
    Stretching after a workout is just as important as stretching before. Aim to stretch for about 15-20 minutes after your household chores to relieve any tension you have in your muscles and decrease soreness the next day.Icing the areas that hurt will also minimize any swelling and soreness. Place a thin cloth in between your skin and the ice to prevent any burning from the ice.  Even if the temperature outside is low, ice is still recommended.  If you are working outside, avoid jumping into a warm bath until after your body readjusts to indoor temperature.
  • Monitor the Pain!
    Pain is normal. Pain lasting more than 48 hours may be something you should look into.  If there is a pain that’s not getting better after stretching and icing, then you may want to get it checked out.See a specialist if the problem persists.  Don’t ignore the pain.  Ignoring your pain can lead to chronic dysfunctions, arthritis and even debilitation.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.  The sooner you get checked out the quicker and easier it will be to receive treatment and get better.


Schedule a FREE 15-minute Exploration Visit

Come visit one of our physical therapy clinics in New York or North Carolina and one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy will do a 15-minute consultation to see if physical therapy is right for you. In the consultation, we’ll help determine the source of pain and movement restrictions to see if you would benefit from physical therapy or might need the assistance of another healthcare professional. If so, we’ll make a referral and help speed up achieving your health goal.

You have nothing to lose; the screening is free! And if physical therapy could help you, we can perform the examination right then–even without a prescription–with Direct Access (covered by insurance).

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