1300 885 886 Independent Living Centres Advisory Service

Reducing Bending and Reaching

For people with back pain or limited mobility, everyday bending and reaching may be difficult. There are many simple techniques to achieve safe body positions  and movements which, combined with practical equipment and safe environment control, can be used to minimise bending and reaching.

Body Positioning

  • Correct body poisitioning is important to carry out activities safely. Maintaining the body in a natural 'S' poisition allows better shock absorption and flexibility. Also, try to always have the shoulders in a comfortable neutral position.
  • Gentle exercises such as stretches in the morning will warm up your muscles and joints to prepare for the actions of the day. Avoid twisiting your body by aligning your feet, hips and shoulders.
  • Bend at your hips and knees rather than your waist when performing activities such as picking up a toy, that requires bending and reaching towards the floor level. 
  • Squatting or sitting with your foot raised on a chair for nail care or to put shoes on reduces bending. Sitting allows a person to complete activities more safely, especially if the person has balance issues and is at risk of falling. 
  • Stand close to the object to avoid bending forward. Decrease the distance between you and the object as much as possible when reaching up with your arms. 

Organising Your Environment

By organising your environment many daily activities can be done in a safer, simpler and easier manner.
Storing items to minimise unnecessary bending and reaching can be achieved by:

  • Placing frequently used items between shoulder and hip height
  • Placing frequently used heavy items between as close to weight height as possible
  • Placing less frquently used items between hip and floor level
  • Placing less frequently used light items between shoulder and extended arm height
  • Using height adjustable equipement such as clothes lines and ironing boards can raise objects to a safe height

Other useful strategies include planning activities ahead of time, such as collecting and arranging equipment before an activity and thinking about how tasks can be carried out more safely.

Equipment to Help Reduce Bending and Reaching

Personal Care

Long Handled Devices

  • Long handled sponges and brushes enable people to reach their toes and back more easily
  • Long handled/angled combs and brushes can assist people who may have limited arm or shoulder movement to brush or comb their hair

Dressing Aids

  • A dressing stick can assist with pulling up trousers without bending down too much
  • Sock aids may assist with pulling on socks where reaching down to the feet is difficult
  • Shoehorns can assist people to put shoes on without bending

Household Activities

A wide range of devices are available to assist people to minimise reaching and bending during activities.

Cleaning

Long Handled Devices
  • Long handled duspans and brushes alow floor sweeping without the need to bend down

Moving Items

Long Handled Devices
  • Long handled reachers may be used to pick leightweight items up from the floor or high places without bending or reaching
Trolleys
  • A trolley of an appropriate height can be used for moving items around the house

Gardening

Raised Garden Beds
  • Raised garden beds limit the amount of bending required
Long Handled Devices
  • Long handled gardening tools decrease the amount of bending necessary when gardening

Leisure

Bowls
  • A bowl lifter allows you to pick up your bowl without bending.
  • A bowling arm enables you to pick up, carry and deliver a bowl or jack without bending.