Vacuuming, a risky activity after back injury

While it seems like a harmless house chore, vacuuming can be an irritating activity following a back injury. Throughout my career I’ve seen countless patients exacerbate their back problem because they felt well enough to “do some things around the house.”

The problem results from a combination of trunk rotation (twisting) and forward bending, used by most to move the vacuum. Using this bad technique, one pushes and pulls the vacuum across the floor with their feet fixed while their trunk bends forward and rotates. These two combined trunk motions are known to increase pressure on lumbar tissues and often provoke back pain.

The solution is to “dance with the vacuum.” This technique requires increased foot and knee movement but very little trunk motion. You should orient your feet in the direction you intend to move the vacuum and not move the trunk. Both knees should remain moderately bent throughout the activity.

I also recommend this technique while using a shovel, rake, or broom. It seems to work almost every time and allows one to complete their intended task without interruption or irritation. Remember, being a little consciencious about how you move can allow for alot of daily activity without back pain!