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Dishwasher's Wrist and Mopper's Back -- Simple Cleaning Chores Can Cause Painful Injuries to Backs, Wrists and Tendons.

Business Editors

OAKLAND, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 5, 2003

You've heard of tennis elbow and runner's knee, painful injuries that can sideline any dedicated athlete. But what about dishwasher's wrist or mopper's back? While those may sound far-fetched, they aren't. The fact is, simple cleaning chores such as washing the dishes, mopping, and scrubbing the bathtub can and do lead to a variety of painful -- but completely avoidable -- back, wrist and tendon injuries.

"Cleaning isn't all that different from playing sports or going jogging, because in all those activities we put a high level of stress on our bodies," said Dr. Marialice Kern, an associate professor of Kinesiology at San Francisco State University and an expert in exercise physiology. "The injuries from cleaning happen for similar reasons that athletic injuries do -- we often have poor posture, do repetitive motions and engage in heavy lifting."

Cleaning injuries may be more common than you think. Wash the dishes, mop the floor, load and unload the washing machine and you are risking back pain, tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. In medical terms, these are all classified as musculo-skeletal disorders (or MSDs). MSDs affect 7 percent of the population and account for 14 percent of physician visits and 19 percent of hospital stays. Every year 230,000 women miss work because of such injuries. Not all those injuries occur on the job, either. The most recent study shows that homemakers accounted for 15.9 percent of the new cases of carpal tunnel syndrome in 30 states and three Canadian provinces over a 30-month period.

To give an example of why cleaning injuries happen, take conventional mopping. Using a conventional mop requires you to repeatedly lift the mop in and out of the bucket and push or pull it from room to room throughout the house. Plus, you're lugging around a heavy bucket of sloshing water. Unless you've got the right posture and techniques to pull, push and lift, you can leave yourself open for injury.

Some cleaning tools are designed with ergonomics in mind. Clorox ReadyMop, the leading bucketless mop, is designed to reduce the strain on wrists and backs caused by conventional mops. The lightweight, maneuverable Clorox ReadyMop carries the cleaning fluid on the mop handle, which eliminates the need to haul around a bucket of soapy water. Cleaning pads can be changed in seconds, so you don't need to wring out a dirty mop head. Even better, Clorox ReadyMop cuts cleaning time in half.

Dr. Kern has identified a series of the best ways to stand, bend, lift and use your arms during the most common cleaning routines.

"By paying attention to how you stand, how you bend, how you lift and use your arms, you can put yourself in, literally, a much better position to stay healthy," said Dr. Kern. "The key is to think about what you're doing, and train yourself to follow the basic principles of ergonomics. You'll clean just as quickly and effectively without putting yourself at risk."

For the complete set of do's and don'ts, along with illustrations of the postures, please go to Among Dr. Kern's do's and don'ts are:

 Mopping and Vacuuming


 -- Keep head up

 -- Keep wrists flat and straight by placing your palm
 along the side of the mop or vacuum handle


 -- Thrust your arm out and bend backwards (which can put
 your back at risk)

 -- Twist at the waist (back problems)

 -- Bend wrist up while holding the mop handle (carpal
 tunnel or tendonitis problems)



 -- Place one foot on an elevated surface, such as a step

 -- Slightly bend the other knee

 -- Keep wrists flat and straight


 -- Keep knees locked (back problems)

 -- Bend at the waist (back problems)

 -- Bend your wrist upward (carpal tunnel or tendonitis

 Loading and unloading the washing machine


 -- Place basket at the same level of the machine

 -- When unloading, lift opposite leg (e.g. left leg) as
 the arm that's reaching into the machine (e.g. right

 -- Use the other hand for support


 -- Bend at waist and lift wet objects out by
 straightening your back (back problems)

 -- Have basket on the floor and bend or twist at the
 waist to pick up each item (carpal tunnel or

The Clorox Company

The Clorox Company is a leading manufacturer and marketer of consumer products with fiscal year 2002 revenues of $4.0 billion. Clorox markets some of consumers' most trusted and recognized brand names, including its namesake bleach and cleaning products, Armor All(R) and STP(R) auto care products, Clorox ReadyMop (R), Fresh Step(R) and Scoop Away(R) cat litters, Kingsford(R) charcoal briquets, Hidden Valley(R) and K C Masterpiece(R) dressings and sauces, and Glad(R) bags, wraps and containers. With 9,500 employees worldwide, the company manufactures products in 25 countries and markets them in more than 100 countries. Founded in 1980, The Clorox Company Foundation has awarded grants totaling more than $51 million to nonprofit organizations, schools and colleges; and in 2001-2002 made product donations valued at nearly $5 million. For more information about Clorox, visit the company's Web site at
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:May 5, 2003
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