In today’s post, I cover how to safely unload your washer and dryer if you have osteoporosis, compression fractures or weak joints. The video demonstrates how to unload your laundry from a front-loading dryer. Later in the post I provide instructions on how to unload a top-loading washer or dryer.
How to Safely Unload Your Washer or Dryer
A client recently asked me how to unload her front-loading washer and dryer while being mindful of her spine movements. She has osteoporosis and was concerned that the wrong movement could cause a compression fracture.
Arthritis in her knees limits her joint movement and mobility. Using a squat to lift a heavy load of laundry (especially a wet load from the washer) is too difficult because of the arthritis in her knees.
She needs alternative techniques to follow that are safe and friendly to her joints and spine. A number of people who read this blog have similar challenges so I thought it would be a worthwhile to share these tips.
How to Hinge From Your Hips
Before we get into the detailed instructions, we need to cover how to hinge from your hips so that you avoid using your spine to lift. This video demonstrates the hip hinge.
These photos illustrate the hip hinge (the safe forward bend) and spinal flexion (an unsafe forward bend).
Now that we know hip hinging, let’s move onto how to safely unload a front-loading washer or dryer.
How to Safely Unload Your Front-Loading Dryer or Washer
Follow these steps to safely unload a front-loading dryer or washer.
1. Use a Low Stool or a Reacher
If you find the technique I demonstrate too difficult to do, then I suggest that you use a low stool to help you reach into the washer or dryer. If the reach causes you to go into flexion, I recommend that you use a reacher. In fact. for most people, I recommend that they use a reacher.
2. Use a Pad or Folded Carpet to Protect Your Knees
If you are able to kneel without experiencing discomfort, I recommend that you use a pad or a folded carpet to protect your knees.
3. Lift the Basket with Good Form
Once you unload the dryer or washer — whether you’re doing it on one knee or both — keep the basket close to your body, hinge from your hips (your butt should be sticking out), and place the basket onto your thigh for support.
Hug the basket close to you once it is on your thigh. The effort of holding and moving a heavy laundry basket is much easier and less demanding on your spine if you keep it close to your body.
4. Use Your Hand to Support You as You Stand Up
Position one of your your hands so that you can help yourself up. Done properly, this will take the load off your knee. Use your hand and arm strength as a leverage to lift yourself off the knee with the basket close to your body.
5. Turn Your Feet in the Direction of Your Body
At all times and with all loads, turn your feet in the direction that you point your body.
With these directions, you should be injury free when you unload laundry from a front-loading washer or dryer. In the next section, we will cover how to unload a top-loading washer or dryer.
Exercise Recommendations for Osteoporosis
Exercise is an essential ingredient to bone health. If you have osteoporosis, therapeutic exercise needs to be part of your osteoporosis treatment program.
But what exercises should you do and which ones should you avoid? What exercises build bone and which ones reduce your chance of a fracture? Is Yoga good for your bones? Who should you trust when it comes to exercises for osteoporosis?
A great resource on exercise and osteoporosis is my free, seven day email course called Exercise Recommendations for Osteoporosis. After you provide your email address, you will receive seven consecutive online educational videos on bone health — one lesson each day. You can look at the videos at anytime and as often as you like.
- Can exercise reverse osteoporosis?
- Stop the stoop — how to avoid kyphosis and rounded shoulders.
- Key components of an osteoporosis exercise program.
- Key principles of bone building.
- Exercises you should avoid if you have osteoporosis.
- Yoga and osteoporosis — should you practice yoga if you have osteoporosis?
- Core strength and osteoporosis — why is core strength important if you have osteoporosis?
Enter your email address and I will start you on this free course. I do not SPAM or share your email address (or any information) with third parties. You can unsubscribe from my mail list at any time.
How to Safely Unload Your Top-Loading Dryer or Washer
Many people have top-loading washers and the directions above will not address concerns with potential fractures or injury.
The most important thing you need to do when loading or unloading a top-loading washer is to make sure you have leverage. This means that you need to lift or elevate your body so that you have a clear reach over the top part of the washer. Follow these instructions.
- Stand on a very sturdy stool. The stool needs to be high enough so that the top of your pelvis is at least at the height of the washer.
- Elevate your your laundry basket by placing it on a chair (or other elevated structure) beside your stool. Elevating the basket reduces the chance that you will go into flexion as you reach for the basket.
- Once you open the top of the washer, place a piece of nonslip cupboard pad or a folded Yoga mat, on the edge of the washer. Most top-loading washers have a six inch space between the outer edge of the washer and the outside edge of the lid.
- With a straight back, hinge forward from your hips (your back should be straight) as you reach over the washer.
- Rest one forearm on the non slip mat.
- Retrieve the wet clothes from the washer with your free hand and drop each item into your basket.
- Try to limit the number of wet laundry items you lift with each pass.
- Retrieve the basket from the chair (or support structure) using a squat technique.
This should adequately cover how to safely unload your washer and dryer whether it appliance is front-loading or top-loading. Always be mindful of your joints and your movements in the spine and shoulder. Learn how to hinge from the hip and not flex from the spine as you lift heavy objects such as wet laundry.
Activities of Daily Living
Read my guide to Activities of Daily Living.