So along the years of teaching, invariably a lovely client comes into the studio and lets me know that their knees, back or lower hips are really sore. Sore, from what I ask?
“Cleaning. I just think that when I am cleaning my house I am not really using my body well.”
“Oh, I say. I can relate to this in more ways than one.”
When it comes to scrubbing, sweeping, reaching, level changes, cleaning is pretty physical. Another factor in making cleaning feel good is our state of mind when we are doing it. Are you really grumpy because you simply don’t want to clean? If I look back at time spent cleaning over the course my life, a good half of those experiences I remember being grumpy.
Cleaning can be fun when a) your body feels good and gets into a rhythm with it and b) you find the pieces of it that bring you joy. I love the effects of a clean space when the work is done. I have had to work on how I use myself in it but even more than that my attitude during. Even though there are many other ways to use my time, cleaning is something I have come to have more respect for as an opportunity to practice the art of living well. I love the feeling of stewardship that comes with caring for your spaces and environments with positive attention. This blog will help you look at some ideas of how to use your body better when cleaning. The other parts of attitude you will need to decide for yourself, music, scents, flowers in the room, nice touches, etc. those are all things that help the fruits of the labors come out from cleaning.
Let’s look at good movement choices and then apply it to cleaning.
Here are the basics that make this activity more comfortable and even fun.
- Arms: From the stability of my body, where do I move my arms from? In the waistline, low part of the mid back. Using your basics on the floor, ground into your hips and back of the waistline. Your shoulders need to be mobile around the back of the body ,but really supported from the core.
- Rotation of the hips and mid body: the lower body spiral from T10-T11 through the legs. This is huge for us to clean with. We will need this rotation to walk, push and pull the sweeper and rotate our body while we sweep with a broom.
- Kneeling: If you kneel, this is a sturdy hands and knees action. The body is distributed between all four limbs with a long healthy spine. Abdominals and back muscles, scaps and hips working together. Avoid overusing the neck to stretch your back muscles in simple cat stretches.This is one of my favorite series to place standing up for our clients who don’t have the option of kneeling anymore. In our video we practice reaching single arms from the organization in your body here. It is handy when needing to get to low levels of something- think baseboards or under furniture.
- Bending: Roll downs to practice bending in the places of our spine that is designed for it. You can look or bend from the eyes, neck, chest, waist or hips. It makes sense that bending at the waist and the hip joints are the most functional. The joints in our spine (T10-T11) and the hips are designed to support movement here. If you primarily bend at the chest (think really rounded shoulders) or the lower spine, those joints are not designed to take the load of the movement and we get sore. This is a pattern I am working on. I reach over from the flexibility in my lower spine and need some warmups in my day to distribute my shoulders around the back of my body instead of allowing them to live forward on my front.
- Squats: Using a squat to change levels so you are using the motion of the hips. Squats are used to experience the strength and motion of the lower body with a long spine. A steady in any strength workout. I have many clients that are uncomfortable about doing squats but in reality it’s the same movement of getting up and down from a chair. It is not the range of motion you practice, it is the path of movement in your body that makes a huge difference.
In our video on safe cleaning, we look at wiping, reaching, sweeping and vacuuming. The sweeping was eye opening to me actually as a teacher. It can become a fun rotational, twisty in feeling type of movement. When I did the video recently I was surprised that if you use your body in this manner it is a good opportunity for the feet, ankles, hips, and core to step up and support you. These are items I teach in the studio every day, every session. Watch out for the overuse of those arm joints where the arm connects to your shoulder. That is where most of us use our arms from. The push and pull and twists and reaches come from within the body not from the arm itself. So cool!
I hope this sheds a new perspective on something we all can use at home regardless of your unique situation. Cleaning is a handy way to practice what we do in the studio- it’s just like class.