I was trying to decide this morning what was the most useful thing I've learned this year and, in the midst of vacuuming the stairs, it came to me.
Six months ago, vacuuming the stairs would have meant back-ache for at least the rest of the day, if not the rest of the week. I've had lower back pain intermittently for the last 20 years but when I moved into this house in May, I began to have almost constant trouble because the wash basin in the en-suite bathroom is slightly lower than the ones I've been used to and brushing my teeth or washing my face tends to involve bending my back at the precise angle guaranteed to aggravate it.
Then I read an article - the title was something like, 'Ten Things Doctors Really Want You to Know' - and one of those ten things they want you to know is, whenever you bend down, pull your stomach muscles in tight (as if you were pulling your stomach towards your backbone). I'm pretty sure that the article said to do this when lifting too, but don't quote me on that. Apparently, your back muscles were never meant to work in isolation and, pulling your stomach muscles tight, (again, apparently) strengthens and stabilises your 'core', making your back muscles far less susceptible to injury.
And you know what? For me, it's worked magnificently. I haven't had a minute's back-ache since I started to do it. Obviously, you need to check this out with someone who is much more qualified to give you medical advice than I am before putting it into practice. (For the record, I have no medical expertise whatsoever and I will accept no responsibility for any damage you cause yourself as a result of reading this blog post and acting on the information it contains.)
All I can tell you is, it worked for me. I'm like a new woman. That's all.