Quick tip #1 – Strenuous housework
Cleaning high windows or tub corners can be murder on your back. “Bending, reaching, and twisting all at once is the worst thing you can do,” says Ann Brinkley, DC, a holistic chiropractor in San Francisco; it can actually herniate a disk.
Cheap fix: Think of chores as a sport. “Spend a few minutes warming up beforehand to protect against injury,” suggests Gerald Silverman, DC, a chiropractor in New York City. Then, use proper form. To lift heavy objects, bend at the knees rather than at the waist. Push furniture with your entire body; don’t pull with just your back and arms. And when vacuuming, step forward and back instead of using your upper body to move the machine.
Money well spent: Gadgets that take the strain off. Work in a more relaxed position with extra long handles, telescoping arms, or handle extenders for mops, window squeegees, and the like, available at home improvement stores. Pick up some furniture sliders (small padded disks that slip under large pieces) when the urge to reposition the sofa strikes; they make moving large objects a breeze. Hiring a cleaning person—even once a month—can also cut down on back strain.
Quick Tip #2 -The wrong pillows
A pillow (or stack of pillows) that’s too high or too flat leaves your neck at an awkward angle.
Cheap fix: Strategic pillow placement. The aim is to keep your ear, shoulder, and hip in a straight line, no matter what position you’re in. If you’re a back sleeper, tuck an extra pillow under your knees and a smaller one under your lower back. Side sleepers, wedge a flat pillow between your knees; stomach snoozers, under your hips. And when you read in bed, sit up straight with pillows behind your back, under your knees, and on your lap to bring your book closer to your face and prevent neck strain.
Money well spent: A custom sleep aid. If a few weeks of pillow shuffling doesn’t help, consider a cervical pillow ($20 and up; medical supply stores) or one made of memory foam; both are specially contoured to support the neck. Throwing an arm and a leg over an extra long body pillow ($30 and up; bedding stores) can also help keep the spine in line.
Quick Tip #3- Couch with no support
Soft, fluffy furniture may seem relaxing, but sofas and chairs without back support encourage slouching. And many studies show this can triple the pressure on the disks in your spine.
Cheap fix: Use props. Tuck a throw pillow, lumbar roll, or even a rolled-up towel behind the small of your back to help you sit up straight. Rest feet on a small footstool, and keep your chin up, rather than tucked against your chest, while you lounge.
Money well spent: Back-friendly furniture. Look for models that encourage good posture: feet on the floor, thighs parallel to the ground, head centered over shoulders, and back supported. Shopping for a recliner? Make sure its back is snug against your lower spine and cradles your shoulders and neck.