- Advice on how to avoid back pain when gardening
- Advice on how to avoid back pain doing household/domestic chores
- Advice on how to avoid back pain for manual labourers
- Advice for menopausal symptoms – to help hot flushes and night sweats
- Advice on calcium in the diet
1. Gardening Tips
Here are a few suggestions to bear in mind which may prevent a lot of discomfort when you are gardening:
- Preparation – ensure you are fit enough to do what you want to do. Gentle warm up exercises.
- Wear appropriate clothing and use supports where necessary.
- Do not spend more than 20 minutes doing any one thing. Take your kitchen timer out with you.
- Be aware of your own limitation, eg consider the weight and size of things before lifting.
- Be prepared to change your habits, and/or get some help where necessary.
- Do not dig if the soil is too dry or too wet; find out whether your soil is best suited to a fork or a spade.
- Kneel rather than bend and use a kneeling pad, or a small stool may also be useful.
- Look out for suitably adapted tools to make your life easier.
- Do not over-reach. Take care with strimmers and Flymo’s – so you do not twist when using them.
- Clear rubbish into small bags as you work, so you don’t have to lift a lot at the end.
- Use a stable wheelbarrow and don’t overfill.
- Use a hose rather than a watering can, or only half fill the watering can.
- Plan your garden for the future; eg raised beds, low maintenance shrubs.
- After a stint in the garden have a hot bath and stretch your muscles out.
- Remember PAIN or discomfort is a warning sign – do not ignore it. See your osteopath if in doubt.
2. Household and domestic chores
Below is a list of general advice given to people doing domestic/household chores:
- Remember to take care when lifting, bend your knees and keep a straight back.
- When washing up, wear a full length plastic apron so you can lean against the sink to wash up, if needed.
- When standing in the kitchen cooking etc. Make sure you have comfortable, shock absorbent shoes so your feet / knees don’t ache, eg training shoes.
- If possible sit down to iron, making sure the ironing board is at the correct height.
- If preparing food, etc preferably sit rather than stand, or use a perching stool.
- When making beds, kneel rather than bend.
- When hoovering try not to swing the hoover around, use smaller movements and try not to bend forwards too much.
- Remember to kneel or crouch (no bending) when loading the dishwasher, washing machine or getting into a low cupboard.
- Try not to hoover or clean the house all in one go, vary your work.
- Take regular breaks.
- Be prepared to wait until you have assistance when tackling heavy chores, eg hanging curtains or moving furniture – know your limitations.
- Be ambidextrous where possible, use alternate hands for jobs, eg dusting and polishing.
- Wear supports where necessary.
- Be aware that when doing any household or domestic chores whilst on pain relieving medication, this can mask your symptoms and you may cause more damage.
- Try not to do one chore for longer than 20 mins at a time.
3. Manual labour
- Think before lifting/handling. Plan the lift. Can handling aids be used? Where is the load going to be placed? Will help be needed with the load? Remove obstructions such as discarded wrapping materials. For a long lift, consider resting the load midway on a table or bench to change grip.
- Keep the load close to the waist. Keep the load close to the body for as long as possible while lifting. Keep the heaviest side of the load next to the body. If a close approach to the load is not possible, try to slide it towards the body before attempting to lift it.
- Adopt a stable position. The feet should be apart with one leg slightly forward to maintain balance (alongside the load, if it is on the ground). Be prepared to move your feet during the lift to maintain stability. Avoid tight clothing or unsuitable footwear, which may make this difficult.
- Get a good hold. Where possible the load should be hugged as close as possible to the body. This may be better than gripping it tightly with hands only.
- Start in a good posture. At the start of the lift, slight bending of the back, hips and knees is preferable to fully flexing the back (stooping) or fully flexing the hips and knees (squatting).
- Don`t flex the back any further while lifting. This can happen if the legs begin to straighten before starting to raise the load.
- Avoid twisting the back or leaning sideways, especially while the back is bent. Shoulders should be kept level and facing in the same direction as the hips. Turning by moving the feet is better than twisting and lifting at the same time.
- Keep the head up when handling. Look ahead, not down at the load, once it has been held securely.
- Move smoothly. The load should not be jerked or snatched as this can make it harder to keep control and can increase the risk of injury.
- Don`t lift or handle more than can be easily managed. There is a difference between what people can lift and what they can safely lift. If in doubt, seek advice or get help.
- Put down, then adjust. If precise positioning of the load is necessary, put it down first, then slide it into the desired position.
4. Menopausal symptoms
- Drink 8 x 8 fl oz filtered water each day. Vittel and Highland Spring have highest calcium levels. Drink still water from glass not plastic bottles to replenish fluids lost from sweating.
- Power walking (with a heart rate monitor to exercise at optimum rate) reminds your body how to cope with temperature extremes, quietens the mind if in nature and is good exercise.
- Daily relaxation practice – deep breathing technique, meditation or visualisation on standing under a cooling waterfall.
- Eat plenty of phytoestrogens daily – beans are the easiest to incorporate into the diet but also include lentils, garlic, celery, brocolli, carrots, potatoes, seeds, brown rice, whole oats and sprouting mung beans and alfalfa seeds.
- Work out your triggers and try to minimise them – eg hot spicy food, alcohol, caffeine, hot drinks and hot baths.
- Consider taking supplements, herbs or homeopathy or visiting an acupuncturist.
- Massage reflexology hand points – for hypothalamus on outer side of each thumbnail and for pituitary at the `whorl` of each thumb fingerprint.
- Wear layered clothes so you can easily remove and replace to maintain the right temperature.
- Consider changing to sheets and blankets instead of a duvet to have more options to control your temperature.
- Use fans, free standing or hand held, or a cold blast from your hairdryer at the end of drying your hair will cool you down.
- Use Bach Flower Remedies to reduce the anxiety over the sense of being `out of control`.
- Discuss with your partner, family and/or colleagues how you are experiencing hot flushes and night sweats and how they make you feel. Suggest how they could support you through this temporary period – helping more in the home, allowing more flexi-time approach to your employment etc.
5. Calcium in the diet
– 99% of the bodies calcium is found in the skeleton and teeth
– Calcium is essential for skeletal health and bone strength
– Increasing age and the menopause increase our daily requirements of
– A low calcium intake is associated with low bone mass and an increased
– Increasing calcium intake can reduce the incidence of fracture in both men
and women with a low calcium intake
A Balanced Calcium-rich Diet
A well-balanced diet is essential for general health and should include foods from the different food groups illustrated below
– Dairy products are rich in calcium including milk, cheese & yoghurt
– Other foods rich in calcium include bread, ‘bony’ fish, (sardines & pilchards),
pulses, dried fruit (currants, figs, apricots), tofu, nuts and dark green leafy
– Fortified soya products are a good alternative source of calcium if following a
dairy-free diet e.g. soya milk, soya yogurts, and soya ice cream
National Osteoporosis Society daily calcium recommendations
Children 7 – 12 yrs 550 mg
Teenagers 13 – 19 yrs male 1000 mg
female 800 mg
Men 20 – 60 yrs 700 mg
Women 20 – 45 yrs 700 mg
Pregnant 700 mg
Women Over 45 yrs 700 mg
Men Over 60 yrs 700 mg
Suggested sources of calcium
Cheddar cheese 1oz (30g) 221mg
Plain yoghurt – small pot 125g 250mg
Semi-skim cows milk 1/3pt/200 mls) 240mg
Baked beans – 2 tablespoons 80g 42mg
Broccoli – med portion 85g 34mg
Cabbage – med portion 95g 31mg
Sardines – half a can 60g 300mg
Dried apricots – 4 32g 23mg
Information obtained from
National Osteoporosis Society