While performing tasks that require prolonged standing—such as cooking, ironing or dishwashing—rest one foot on a footstool, book or the inside shelf of a cabinet, and occasionally alternate feet. If possible, your countertops, ironing board and sink should be waist-high. When vacuuming or raking leaves, use a fencer’s stance. Keep your back flat, put one foot forward and then lean forward from the hips with your knees slightly bent. Although this posture may feel awkward at first, it ensures that your leg muscles will bear most of your weight.
Keep heavier food items such as juice cartons on the top shelves of the refrigerator to avoid having to lean over to reach them, as pictured. Keep frequently used kitchenware—like pots and pans—and heavy appliances at counter level. When possible, move items by sliding them across the counter instead of lifting. Lightweight objects can be kept on high shelves, but use a footstool or stepladder to retrieve them. Organize your closets in a similar manner.
When lifting, observe the age-old mantra of bending at the knees, not at the waist. Hold items close to your body as you lift, and if you have to turn, step in the direction of the turn rather than twisting your torso. Never try to lift or carry more than you can handle. For example, transfer wet clothes from the washer to the dryer a few at a time—wet clothes can be unexpectedly heavy—and dispose of your garbage in several small bags rather than one large heavy-duty trash bag.
Buy a cart with wheels and use it whenever you can to tote packages in from the car, carry laundry or take out the garbage, for example. When moving a load—even in a rolling cart—push it, rather than pull. Pushing makes better use of the muscles in your legs and stomach and is easier on your back.