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  1. #1
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    Nov. 20, 2010
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    Default Aching back at the kitchen counter

    Right now I am sitting tilted in my chair to relieve a back ache from working at my kitchen counter. This happens a lot... Does anyone else have this issue?

    I do all kinds of physical stuff around the house and can take solid walks up the steep hills in my back woods. Still ride my horse fairly regularly. I don't hurt after a good work out on the horse. I do when bringing in wood or stacking wood - if I carry too much at once. But if I limit the log carrying to about 4 pieces at a time, I'm fine. Can usually carry a 40 lb bag of dog food to and from the car as I also move it carefully with my thighs to avoid heaving with my back.

    But it's things that require keeping the arms straight out for some period of time while standing that really bothers me. Mid-section - right along my back rib cage. No spurting pains to extremities so I think it may be more muscular than spinal? So washing dishes, the meat loaf I spent an hour making today, Christmas baking of course - that sort of thing really gets to me. Hate being a wimp in the kitchen.

    Also lengthy shopping where I carry a shoulder bag that I have to keep an arm on...

    Am in my late 50's. About 15-20 lbs overweight with - yes - much of it in my stomach. Relatively long legs and verrrry short waisted.

    Ideas? Suggestions? Cures?

    Edited to add: Sometimes a couple of ibuprofen helps. I asked for a muscle relaxant from my GP when it interfered with my falling asleep, but they do nothing...
    Last edited by CVPeg; Feb. 3, 2014 at 06:38 PM.
    Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time. Malcolm Forbes



  2. #2
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    Mar. 24, 2004
    Location
    Pottstown, PA (East Coventry)
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    3,069

    Default

    I frequently sit at the kitchen table to make meatballs- I make 10 pounds at a time. I make cookies at the table. I have plantar faciitis not back pain.

    You might want to consider a trip to your primary care doc and a round of physical therapy.
    Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 27, 2001
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    North County, San Diego
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    Default

    Is your counter too low? What is your posture like when you are working there? Are you wearing comfortable shoes while working? Have a cushioned mat at the counter? Do you do any exercises to strengthen and stabilize your core?

    When was the last time you had a massage from a knowledgeable massage therapist? Do you have a foam cylinder massage roller?


    1 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct. 21, 1999
    Location
    Rochester, NY
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    I do think that the height of that counter may be playing a big part in your problem. I have the same problem only because I know the history of the counters (and the sink, too, for that matter), it's easier to identify. They're built to purpose counters, and they were put in specifically to accommodate my Mother's height. She was 5' 5". I was 5' 7" and even though that's only two inches difference, I have always had a problem being comfortable working at them. Ironically, now that I'm getting older, and shrinking, they're not such a problem any more.

    Unfortunately, I don't know what you could do about that other than ripping them out and starting over.
    Originally Posted by Alagirl
    We just love to shame poor people...when in reality, we are all just peasants.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 12, 2010
    Location
    Westford, Massachusetts
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    Default

    Are you on the tall side? I have upper back pain when working at the kitchen counter for a long time....it is because the counters are too low. I'm 5'9" and standard counters are designed for a 5'4" ish (average) woman. That constant bending over kills me. I got a big, thick piece of wood and put my cutting board on top of it, that helps a lot when I'm chopping little things. I can also put a mixing bowl on it for beating things. Taking a break and walking away for 5 minutes helps too, stretch by going to a nearby doorway, putting your hands on the frame and walking through it (leaving your hands behind...that will stretch your pecs, which get short when stooping). Long handled spoons for stirring things on the stove. Dishwasher, rather than handwashing for dishes.

    Many years ago, when I was a child, my parents looked at a house that was custom built for a Boston Celtics player and his 6 foot wife, it had high counters! Too high for my 5'5" mother, but, boy, would I love to have those counters now, in my own middle age .


    3 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep. 5, 2005
    Location
    Mass.
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    6,634

    Default

    Are you wearing shoes? If not, try that. Also, it sounds like a height issue - either the counter is too low or too high. If you work at the kitchen table do you have the same problems? My kitchen counters are "standard" which means they are an inch and a half too tall for me. Very uncomfortable. Next house I am spending the money for custom-height kitchen counters.
    I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry


    3 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 1, 2008
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    Nowhere, Maryland
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    3,175

    Default

    Maybe try a rubber mat? I find that standing on a hard surface kills my back. Holding horses on concrete for the blacksmith is the worst.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
    CVPeg is offline Grand Prix Premium Member
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    I'm just 5'6", but my legs are built for someone 5'9". I disappear when I sit down.

    Kind of loving the idea of a massage right now. Yes, my core does need strengthening, and maybe it is just getting older.

    I have coveted those cushioned mats, but can't bear spending a lot of $$$ for one. I really only spend a bit of time at the counter about 2-3 times a week since I'm on my own. And to avoid the nagging ache. Eat a lot of leftovers, pizza, soup, salads or Lean Cuisine.
    Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time. Malcolm Forbes



  9. #9
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    Aug. 12, 2010
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    Westford, Massachusetts
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    Oh, one other thing you could try, if counter height is the issue, is getting a taller/lower island if you kitchen can accomodate it. Much cheaper than changing all the counters. You could do your fussy stuff that requires lots of standing and hand work on that to limit the amount of time you spend reaching for things at the wrong height. Even a stool to work at it with...set the heights up ergonomically, like a computer desk, with elbows at a right angle.


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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul. 20, 2006
    Posts
    621

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    Chop your vegetables at the table - seated. It's the only thing that works for me.



  11. #11
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    Jul. 14, 2011
    Location
    Warren County, NJ
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    One simple thing that might help is resting one foot on a footstool. And changing to the other foot once in a while. Sort of like sleeping with a pillow under your knees to relieve strain in your lower back.


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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar. 27, 2001
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    North County, San Diego
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    Quote Originally Posted by CVPeg View Post
    I'm just 5'6", but my legs are built for someone 5'9". I disappear when I sit down.

    Kind of loving the idea of a massage right now. Yes, my core does need strengthening, and maybe it is just getting older.

    I have coveted those cushioned mats, but can't bear spending a lot of $$$ for one. I really only spend a bit of time at the counter about 2-3 times a week since I'm on my own. And to avoid the nagging ache. Eat a lot of leftovers, pizza, soup, salads or Lean Cuisine.
    I have a standing desk. It's well worth getting a cushioned mat (the one I have is from Beth Bath & Beyond, so it wasn't too expensive). I stand when I paint, I stand when I photograph and now I stand when I process photos on the computer. I invested in a Vari-Desk top, because I know how the wrong height work surface can wreak havoc!

    If you can swing getting one of these massively thick cutting boards, you can add 3 inches of height to your kitchen workspace just like that!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug. 15, 2008
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    4,585

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    I find I have this issue more so when I'm doing something that requires me to lean just a little bit over or into the counter, or stand back a few more inches than normal.

    I know the pain you are talking about though. It's aching and awful.
    "Aye God, Woodrow..."


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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb. 6, 2003
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    NorthEast
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    I get it too...I sit whenever possible for long cooking times. And a couple Christmases ago my husband came home with 2 gel-pro mats as a surprise for me. He was probably sick of me ruining some holday carols by swearing during cookie baking. (I bake a ridiculous amount of cookies)
    I love them, they do make a huge difference for me. Sometimes I just kick off my shoes and stand on them for no reason.

    But whenever possible, sit. And watch how you lean forward when using your arms stretched out or the ouchiness will move up to between your shoulder blades.
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!
    ...Belefonte


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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec. 4, 2005
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    washington state
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    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    He was probably sick of me ruining some holday carols by swearing during cookie baking. (

    The Knotted Pony

    Proud and upstanding member of the Snort and Blow Clique.


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  16. #16
    CVPeg is offline Grand Prix Premium Member
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    Well, headed to the "Big City" this week, so maybe I'll finally give on one of those mats. Just have to find one of the 1000 discount coupons from Bed, Bath & Beyond. Oh, and think I'll look for some kind of roller for your back? I can just reach the spot with my hands if I stretch, and it feels great if I can massage it. But it's pretty awkward...

    I also have a 2 person tall table with a couple of stools. And you're right, it does help to use the stool when doing a lot. It just seems that anything I do requiring standing and holding an arm horizontally is an issue. Better start those core strengthening exercises once more.

    Plus I have about 8 cords of wood just dumped on my side yard from logging. A LOT of work ahead piling wood - and I'll need to be tough for that, too.

    Ah, the country life!
    Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time. Malcolm Forbes



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct. 21, 1999
    Location
    Rochester, NY
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    12,334

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    Quote Originally Posted by CVPeg View Post

    Plus I have about 8 cords of wood just dumped on my side yard from logging. A LOT of work ahead piling wood - and I'll need to be tough for that, too.

    Ah, the country life!
    That'll strengthen your core all by itself.
    Originally Posted by Alagirl
    We just love to shame poor people...when in reality, we are all just peasants.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  18. #18
    CVPeg is offline Grand Prix Premium Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louise View Post
    That'll strengthen your core all by itself.
    Yeah - but I gotta do it in ever increasing increments!
    Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time. Malcolm Forbes



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov. 2, 2001
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    Packing my bags
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    Quote Originally Posted by CVPeg View Post
    Right now I am sitting tilted in my chair to relieve a back ache from working at my kitchen counter. This happens a lot... Does anyone else have this issue?

    I do all kinds of physical stuff around the house and can take solid walks up the steep hills in my back woods. Still ride my horse fairly regularly. I don't hurt after a good work out on the horse. I do when bringing in wood or stacking wood - if I carry too much at once. But if I limit the log carrying to about 4 pieces at a time, I'm fine. Can usually carry a 40 lb bag of dog food to and from the car as I also move it carefully with my thighs to avoid heaving with my back.

    But it's things that require keeping the arms straight out for some period of time while standing that really bothers me. Mid-section - right along my back rib cage. No spurting pains to extremities so I think it may be more muscular than spinal? So washing dishes, the meat loaf I spent an hour making today, Christmas baking of course - that sort of thing really gets to me. Hate being a wimp in the kitchen.

    Also lengthy shopping where I carry a shoulder bag that I have to keep an arm on...

    Am in my late 50's. About 15-20 lbs overweight with - yes - much of it in my stomach. Relatively long legs and verrrry short waisted.

    Ideas? Suggestions? Cures?

    Edited to add: Sometimes a couple of ibuprofen helps. I asked for a muscle relaxant from my GP when it interfered with my falling asleep, but they do nothing...
    You might want to check with a good kitchen planner: The counter tops might be at a bad height for you. These few inches up or down can make a huge difference.
    When my step mom had her kitchen redone (or rather the kitchen in the new house set up) the planner asked her all kinds of questions, as tho who was doing the chores, if she was wearing heels in the kitchen (a la June Cleaver)
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct. 13, 2007
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    709

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    Do you wear shoes when working in the kitchen? I know that it makes a difference if I wear shoes if I am going to be standing for a long time in my kitchen on that super hard tile floor.



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