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Dec 4, 2009 08:23 AM

Something to help low back pain when cooking

I had read in another thread about jfood having some clogs that helped low back pain and knee issues when he cooks ( Does anyone have any info about something like that. Thanksgiving was brutal on my back. I kept having to go sit down, so making my dressing and gravy took twice as long. I would take the stuff and chop at the table and then go back and add. By the time I got to my daughters I was in so much pain I could hardly move. If there are some miracle shoes I would love to try them!

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  1. D

    Here is a link to a picture of the type jfood uses. He likes the cutouts or else your feet get a bit moist. These are not the ones that jfood uses but is just an illustration.

    There was also a thread about some cushy mats that people use. It was ont he boards within the last two weeks, you may want to look there. jfood thinks it may be under a what to buy at costco thread.

    Alleve is also a good way to prepare for a long stand-around in the kitchen.

    Hope those help

    1 Reply
    1. re: jfood

      Thanks jfood. I will look for the thread about the mats. I have seen those and wondered if they really help. The clogs look comfy.

    2. I've had serious back problems for many years. I use a Gel Pro mat in the kitchen, and if things get really bad, I open a lower cupboard door and rest a foot on the bottom shelf -- it's amazing how that little trick helps me. Give it a try.

      13 Replies
      1. re: pikawicca

        I saw that Gel Pro Mat at the Costco Business Center store. It was $99, whiich I thought was a bit pricey. But, if you need it you need it.

          1. re: monku

            My Costco has them near the lightbulbs and such for 69.99. compared to gelpro's website price of $125ish. I purchased one a few weeks ago and it is worth the cost.
            It has made a difference with my lower back pain and feet issues.

            I'm on my feet all day at work and am practically limping by the time I get home. This mat has let me get back in the kitchen and cook instead of just reheating!

            On the shoe aspect, I do wear good shoes with support - Clark's, Merrill's, etc. Just aging feet ready for retirement a few decades early...

            1. re: meatn3

              For those of you who have the gelpro mat

              1) have you had any issues with the mat curling around the edges? A lot of people on Amazon are saying that the edges curl up after about a year, creating a tripping hazard.

              2) Do you have the mat out all the time, or just when you have a marathon cooking session? I was wondering if the mat would have less tendency to curl (per 1 above) if we put it away except for "extended" cooking sessions...

              Thank you!


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I've had mine about a month. There is a thin flange that extends out about 3/8" on all sides. It is nowhere as thick as the mat. I can see where if has a slight ripple happening on one side which is close to my heating vent. Even if it curled to the fullest extent I don't think it would be a hazard. I don't anticipate this becoming an issue for me.

                  As far as leaving it out, yes I do. It is heavier than most kitchen mats, but not to the point of being difficult to move. The literature with it indicates you should roll it around the tube it came with (heavy cardboard tube) with the upper side out for storing.

                  Perhaps storing it would counter the possibility of curling. For myself, that would be too much bother. Out of sight out of mind - I know I would forget about it until my feet and back started to hurt and then it would be moot.
                  Plus my physical comfort is an issue each time I'm in the kitchen so I purchased the mat for daily use.

                  I do have a friend who is buying it to use when she is exhibiting at art shows. She will roll and store it with her show gear. I'll try to check with her down the road and see how it is holding up.

            2. re: pikawicca

              Good hint pika! I'll try that trick with the cabinet door. It has gotten to the point that I don't even try too cook anything that takes longer than a few minutes. The gel pro mat sounds interesting but more than I can afford at this point.

              1. re: danhole

                And that price is for the small one. Since I do prep and cook in 2-3 locations, I couldn't afford it.

                I have Danska closed heel clogs and they make a big difference.

                I also try to sit on a bar stool if I have a lot of slicing and dicing to do. Old age sucks :)

                1. re: c oliver

                  I have some Rockport clogs with a partial closed heel. Do you think that would work? I'm going to try them out, ut they are black suede, so I really don't want to mess them up. I don't have a bar stool, but that is an idea I'll consider.

                  1. re: danhole

                    I think clogs generally are a good idea. Try your nice ones and, if you think it helps, maybe you could pick up some Danskas on clearance. I remember that their website had "closeouts" at some time in the past.

                    PS: Did you see I fixed ham salad and am completely hooked. I made ALOT and have a few bites at least every day in addition to real meals. Mmmmm.

                      1. re: nomistone

                        And if you live anywhere near southeastern PA, Dansko has an outlet store at their factory in Jennersville.

                      2. re: c oliver

                        Well, I tried my nice ones last night. Didn't make a whole lot of dinner and wasn't on my feet that much, but my clogs have no spring or bounce to them, and they did not improve the situation. I am thinking about trying my tennis shoes, that are made for walking. They are a bit bouncy.

                        I left you a note about ham salad on the other thread.

              2. The original comment has been removed
                1. I have lumbar osteoarthritis that's really bad for somebody my age. According to my physical therapist, the best thing to minimize symptoms is to develop better posture. When you're dicing carrots or stirring a sauce, it's natural to hunch forward, putting extra load on the low back.

                  It's hard - especially at first - to keep shoulders back, head back, butt in, and posture straight. Especially if the work surface is too low. Practice makes it easier, as do exercises that strengthen the core muscles - abs and low back - and that strengthen the upper back and keep the shoulders from rolling forward.

                  Good ergonomics help, too. The gel mats are great. Good shoes are a must. (Clogs? Bah. Doc Martens.) And if possible, get those work surfaces to the right height for you - if your counters are a little too low, a thick cutting board can make all the difference in the world.

                  34 Replies
                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    When we remodeled a few years ago, I had the counters raised 3". I do most of my prep on a 2"-thick Boos board. It all helps.

                    1. re: pikawicca

                      We (well, actually Bob) put in Ikea cabinets when we did a major remodel a few years ago. We were able to adjust the height and got them higher. Definitely helps.

                      Alan, if you wear THOSE shoes when cooking, you are SO uninvited to come here for a visit. They are GROSS :) Have you NO pride, man? Do your wife and daughters leave the house (or the county) when you put those on????

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Hey, both my daughters **want** those boots. But they agree that I'm too old to pull off that kind of fashion statement. Fortunately Docs are available in more subdued styles that are equally comfy and supportive when cooking or doing any other standing-oriented activity.

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          Fine for 12 and 15 y.o.'s - not for old farts. I love my Danskas and they've also been great when we just have an inch or so of snow. They're waterproof and the clog sole lifts me up so I'm not getting wet feet. I swore when I got them that they were for the kitchen only and I wouldn't be caught dead outside the house in them. But never say never.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            The little jfoods (20 and 24) have nicknamed all of jfood's shoes that are not old-guy daddy-approved. None of thos names are PC though.

                        2. re: pikawicca

                          We also raised the height of our counters when we remodeled.

                          1. re: lgss

                            Snap. Counter heights were set when people were weer. Ikea had legs in three different heights

                            1. re: Paulustrious

                              What does "weer" mean? My house is about 50+ years old. Still have the original counters.

                                1. re: danhole

                                  'Tis a real word, means smaller.

                                  And the counter heights were 'fixed' over 100 years before that.

                                  (Edit:: just read igss - same reply :-. Sounds better when said with a Scots accent...

                                  Aye, in them days the folks were a touch weer. And some were a touch wierd, and others weer touched.

                          2. re: alanbarnes

                            I'm not very tall, so I think the height of my work surface is fine for me, and I really do have good posture! Now, Doc Marten's? Are they recommended for this type of thing? I always jsut thought of them as a sort of yuppie thing. Don't really know anything about them.

                            1. re: danhole

                              A yuppie thing? Sid Vicious is rolling in his grave.

                              Before they became part of the punk rock uniform, Docs were favored by postmen, policemen, and others who spent their days afoot because the air-cushioned "bouncing soles" are easy on the feet and back.

                              1. re: danhole

                                Yes, higher surfaces are often part of the problem for we "not very tall" types. I read that our counters should be 5" or 6" (forget which), below our bended elbow. Are yours in that ballpark at least?

                                1. re: cinnamon girl

                                  cinnamon girl,

                                  I have about 3 inches from bended elbow to counter top. Maybe I should stand on a platform, or something along those lines. Funny how people are talking about raising the counters and I need to lower mine! Or grow a few inches, which isn't going to happen.

                                  1. re: danhole

                                    You forced me to walk into my kitchen and estimate distance. I'd say with your parameters, I'm 3-4" from my counter top.

                                    1. re: danhole

                                      I use a BOSU:


                                      Stand on top and knead bread, etc. Perfect and I get in core/balance training, too.

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        Very interesting Chowser! Do you have to balance while you are on it, or can you just stand on it. I have a hard time with balance. I can lose my balance practically standing still!

                                        1. re: danhole

                                          Hmmm, when people start, they have to balance but you get used to it and now it's like standing on a flat surface for me (i jump and do 360 turns on it, not while cooking!)--but that's the point when you come down to it. Balance is so important, especially as we get older and start losing it. It's kind of a squishy surface but it's easier next to the counter because you can lean on the counter some, if you want.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            Unfortunately my balance issues aren't age related - I'm really not that old! It is due to uneven leg lengths. Never had balance in the first place. Might be good practice, though. Wish I could try one out for a week and then decide!

                                            1. re: danhole

                                              My son has legs of different lengths, and I think the BOSU might do you a world of good. I started using it after surgery on a foot really messed up my balance. It helps a lot, although I'm not going to be doing any serious knife work while perched atop one.

                                              1. re: danhole

                                                I had polio as a child and have one shorter leg as well as several serious back injuries and surgery.. Nothing has worked 100% and there are days when I'm on the floor and that's that.

                                                However, many helpful trucs have emerged over the years. Shoes with support and bounce are essential, so is moving and re-distributing your weight while standing. Whoever suggested putting your foot up on a cabinet drawer is correct, just be sure to change elevated legs often. I make it a point to move around every couple of minutes, doing some gentle stretching each time. I stand on Oriental rugs in the kitchen (laid over wood floors) and find them helpful. Ikea has bargains in their rugs. Last weekend, I was on my feet at someone's home with stone floors and I knew the difference within 30 minutes. Ouch.

                                                Breaking up chores into 20-30 minute segments and walking around for a bit works well for me, as does changing my tasks. Instead of standing in a single spot for 30 minutes, I'll do some vegetable prep, then move over to knead dough or set the table, returning to the prep work after walking around. This is not the most efficient way to cook but it has helped me be able to spend more time in the kitchen.

                                                This has been going on since I was a child and will never be completely resolved. It is better when I pay attention to all the possibile aids and cut myself some slack. Until stevedore back transplants become available, I'll limp along as best I can.

                                                1. re: danhole

                                                  danhole, for what it's worth, I've been to several doctors over the years for back problems, and many have pointed out that one leg is shorter than the other, including PM&R doctors, physical therapists and even an acupuncture guy. A couple of months ago at the recommendation of a friend, I went to a DO (doctor of osteopath) and he observed the same thing. But after a detailed exam, discerned that one hip is rotated slightly forward,which is what's causing the leg to be shorter. I have only been to his office for adjustments 3 times and the amount of pain I've been in regularly for YEARS has gone from a 8-9 daily to a 2-3. The difference in leg height is now nearly imperceptible. Unless it's caused by something quite certain, such as a surgery or illness like polio someone else mentioned, you might consider going to see a DO to see if there's something they might find actually out of alignment that might improve with adjustment/correction.

                                                  1. re: rockandroller1

                                                    I don't really want to go into my medical history with back pain, but I have had it a very long time. Usually it is my upper back and neck. Only recently my lower back has been hurting, as well as upper. I will check into the DO, but is that like a chiropractor? I have a congenital defect that my excellent chiropractor could not really help me with. Thanks for the hint though.

                                                    Today I wore my Easy Spirit walking shoes hoping that would help, but didn't do a darn bit of good! Gotta keep trying things! Problem with the gel pro mat is I can't take it to the grocery store! And even that hurts my lower back. I do think it is going to be in the shoes and doing some exercises.

                                                    1. re: danhole

                                                      A DO is different than a chiro. Better IMO. I too have suffered literally for years, at least 10. It's worth a try.

                                                      1. re: rockandroller1

                                                        You're correct. DO's have training and licensing privileges very like MDs. Totally different from a chiropractor.

                                              2. re: danhole

                                                Oddly enough, it's harder to keep your balance when standing still. Ask anyone who's drunk.

                                            2. re: danhole

                                              DH: If you find a way to grow a few inches please let me know. Maybe that is part of your problem though. Do you find it easier working at a table? (One day I put a bowl in the sink when I was whisking something and that was instant relief. And the splatters were contained.) But yes, I think some kind of a platform would be good for the likes of us. I bought some Birks several yrs ago that have very thick soles, which I never wear outside. Sometimes they help. The soles are almost 2" high. In other words, anything that raises me or lowers my work surface.

                                              1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                Birkenstock makes massage sandals (which I wear all summer for work and when outside). Some love them some hate them. Anyone who tries them needs to very gradually increase the time started at only a few minutes per day. I bought mine over 5 years ago and had them resoled last spring. I have another older pair which is no longer available, will probably have them resoled as well.

                                        2. re: alanbarnes

                                          You wear Doc Martens when you COOK???? Man, I love you!

                                          1. re: nofunlatte

                                            So do I. They're the only shoes I wear, unless I'm going to a wedding or something.

                                          2. re: alanbarnes

                                            I highly recommend strengthening the lower back, too, which in turn helps with posture. Right now, it might be just standing too long cooking that bothers the back but as we all get older, it starts creeping into other aspects, too. Good shoes, mats, etc. treat the symptom but not the underlying problem. Core work--too often overlooked.

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              Hula hooping is the easiest and most pain free way to do this and its fun.

                                              1. re: just_M

                                                It looks like fun too. Do you go to classes, or did you just get a dvd, or do you make it up as you go along, or . . . ?

                                                1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                  We make it up as we go. Usually hooping in one direction for one song or commercial and then hoop in the other direction for the next. My husband is the one that started hooping when his tai chi instructor said it would help him with the rotations in form and keeping his hips tucked. It did that and more. My husband also walks/paces while hooping, using a weighted hoop he made. I find the weighted hoop is much easier to use and I lost an inch off my waist the first month just goofing off.

                                          3. There are also some floor mats that may help.