Housework can put a great strain on the back. Learn to take frequent breaks between chores; never continue on until pain forces you to stop. When vacuuming, keep the vacuum cleaner close to your body using short sweeps. Try alternating the arm you use, and make full use of the cleaner's accessories. Finally, store the vacuum cleaner where it is easily reached.
In the KitchenRearrange your cupboards into a back-friendly area with everyday items in an easy to reach place and heavy items reasonably low. If you have to get something down from a high cupboard, use safe steps - do not overstretch. Rather than stooping over the kitchen sink, raise the height of the basin inside it by placing it on another, upturned basin. You can also reduce any strain by placing one foot on a low stool or opening the cupboard under the sink to allow more room for your knees or to rest one foot. If your working surfaces are too high, sit on a stool of the correct height, keeping your back straight. Long-handled brushes are well worth the investment. Remember to bend the knees when lifting heavy items in and out of the oven. Wall-mounted ovens, fridges, microwaves and freezers are back savers.
In the BathroomKneel down to clean the bath and toilet, and bend your knees when cleaning the basin. When washing your hair at a basin, bend your knees. Even better, wash your hair in the shower, or by kneeling at the side of the bath and using a hand-held adapter. Back strains can easily happen when getting in or out of the bath, so consider buying a non-slip mat or grip rail to put inside it. Rather than stretching for the bath towel - have it within easy reach. When drying your feet, avoid bending over by sitting down and raising your foot towards you. Remember that a hair drier is useful for drying parts of the body that are difficult to reach - but never use it in the bathroom. Try to avoid constipation if at all possible as the lower back muscles are easily strained when extra effort is required.
In the LaundryWet clothes are heavy, so always carry your laundry basket in front of you, not resting on one hip. Rest the basket on a garden chair or box when hanging out washing, to save bending down to ground level. Try ironing sitting down, or resting one foot on a raised block or low stool. Don't stand for too long without changing position.
In the BedroomWhen making beds, always kneel rather than stoop. Resist the temptation to do everything from one side of the bed by stretching over, it is better to spend a few extra minutes moving round the bed than a few days in it with a bad back!
As most beds and mattresses are kept for a number of years, a good, supportive mattress is essential to sleep well and avoid back discomfort. A supportive mattress is not necessarily hard - it should simply allow some absorption of the hip and shoulder.
When buying a new bed or mattress, take your time and test them out. Lie down in the position in which you normally sleep, and check how easy it is to get in and out. If you cannot replace an old or sagging mattress, put a board under it as a temporary measure or even put the mattress on the floor.
The best posture for sleeping is one where the three natural curves of the spine are supported. As we continually move throughout the night the best bed is one that can absorb our changing shape to maintain good posture.
Pillows tend to be very personal; however too many pillows will provoke neck pain, as can lying on your stomach. One pillow is best.