There’s so much twisting, reaching, bending, and turning that goes on in the kitchen that cooking dinner can seem like a real workout. Hunching over a sink full of dishes or standing on a hard floor for a prolonged period of time can result in back pain and other complaints. Thankfully, making your kitchen more ergonomic can help.
Image via Flickr by Andie712b
Most kitchens feature ceramic tile, stone, or terra cotta flooring, but these materials aren’t easy on the feet or legs. Replacing hard flooring with wood or cork can help because these materials naturally have a bit of bounce to them. If you can’t afford to replace the flooring, throw down some non-slip mats or rugs in areas in front of the sink, stove, and counters.
Make High Cabinets Accessible
Reaching for items stored on the highest shelf in your kitchen can strain the body. An easy solution is to keep a stepstool handy, but constantly positioning it and putting it away after use can be tiresome. A better solution may be to install a pull-down shelf mechanism that makes it easy to pull items to your level.
Replace Old Appliances
Modern appliances have come a long way not only in terms of design and function, but also ergonomics. Many of today’s LG gas ranges, refrigerators, dishwashers, and countertop appliances feature comfort handles, grips, and ergonomic knobs that make them easier to use for people with arthritis and other chronic conditions. Look for appliances that utilize soft, tactile materials that don’t require much force to operate.
Move the Microwave Off the Countertop
Countertop microwaves may be convenient, but they’re not the easiest to use and they’re often in the way. Installing the microwave in the cabinetry above a countertop places it at the perfect height so there’s no stooping involved. Avoid installing it over the range, however, as you don’t want to be removing hot food over a hot surface. This is also a good idea as it gives you more room for other items such as a kitchen splashback.
Raise the Range Hood
Image via Flickr by Alex Ansley
Cooks taller than the edge of the range hood know how difficult it is to stir food. It often requires hunching over or straining your neck to give you a better view of saucepans on the back of the range. Raising the range hood is the only way to fix this problem. Check to make sure the clearance you need is within the manufacturer’s maximum allowable distance. If not, invest in a new hood.
Be Mindful of Storage
Consider the weight of items when storing them to avoid injury. Heavy items like cans should be stored between shoulder and hip height to avoid stretch-related injuries, so they’re best placed on middle shelves in the pantry. The lightest items should go in the lowest cabinets or on shelves above the head. Remember, a falling cereal box won’t cause injury, but a falling can could end up breaking your toe.
Modifying any kitchen takes planning and a bit of financial investment, but the payoff for creating an ergonomic kitchen is high. The peace of mind you get from knowing your family is safe from the most common household-related injuries is priceless.